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How to Promote Order and Property Rights under Weak Rule of Law? An Experiment in Changing Dispute Resolution Behavior through Community Education
Last registered on February 09, 2016


Trial Information
General Information
How to Promote Order and Property Rights under Weak Rule of Law? An Experiment in Changing Dispute Resolution Behavior through Community Education
Initial registration date
February 09, 2016
Last updated
February 09, 2016 4:38 PM EST
Primary Investigator
University of Chicago
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Yale University
PI Affiliation
Yale University
Additional Trial Information
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Dispute resolution institutions facilitate agreements and preserve the peace whenever property rights are imperfect. In weak states, strengthening formal institutions can take decades, and so state and aid interventions also try to shape informal practices and norms governing disputes. Their goal is to improve bargaining and commitment, thus limiting disputes and violence. Mass education campaigns that promote alternative dispute resolution (ADR) are common examples of these interventions. We studied the short-term impacts of one such campaign in Liberia, where property disputes are endemic. Residents of 86 of 246 towns randomly received training in ADR practices and norms; this training reached 15% of adults. One year later, treated towns had higher resolution of land disputes and lower violence. Impacts spilled over to untrained residents. We also saw unintended consequences: more extrajudicial punishment and (weakly) more nonviolent disagreements. Results imply that mass education can change high-stakes behaviors, and improving informal bargaining and enforcement behavior can promote order in weak states.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Blair, Robert, Christopher Blattman and Alexandra Hartman. 2016. "How to Promote Order and Property Rights under Weak Rule of Law? An Experiment in Changing Dispute Resolution Behavior through Community Education." AEA RCT Registry. February 09. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1038-1.0.
Former Citation
Blair, Robert et al. 2016. "How to Promote Order and Property Rights under Weak Rule of Law? An Experiment in Changing Dispute Resolution Behavior through Community Education." AEA RCT Registry. February 09. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1038/history/6821.
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Experimental Details
This study looks at the effectiveness of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) education as a peacebuilding tool. ADR is a set of informal practices and norms of negotiation and mediation that are intended to help parties reach self-enforcing bargains faster than courts can. The study was conducted in Liberia where rule of law is weak and property disputes are endemic and often escalate to violence. A total of 86 communities were given 8 days of ADR education and subsequent dispute outcomes within those communities were surveyed within the next few months.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Outcome variables measure impact on:
(i) land disputes
(ii) women and minorities
(iii) property ownership and security
(iv) interpersonal disputes
(v) community level disputes
(vi) Whether difficult conflicts are resolved
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The government of Liberia nominated 246 communities in the counties of Lofa, Nimba and Grand Gedeh for ADR education. Out of these communities 116 were randomly chosen for treatment, the ADR education workshop, to be rolled out in five phases. Treatment communities were randomly assigned to the phases. Due to resource constraints, the training was completed in 86 communities instead of 116 leaving 160 as control.
In each treatment community, 15% of the adult population participated in the training which was conducted over 8 days by two facilitators over a period of two months. Groups of 35 participants were educated in each workshop. However, 16 of the 86 communities were subject to intense treatment whereby 25% of the population participated in the training to understand the marginal effect of increased training. The selection of these populations was not random rather were by choice of village leaders.
Endline surveys begun approximately ten months after the first workshop and were conducted on a rolling basis even as treatment workshops were being rolled in many communities. Thus in some communities the endline survey was concurrent with treatment. Although this was unintentional, this allowed the researchers to understand the impact of the ADR education program over a timeline of zero months to almost two years.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit

Of the 246 communities nominated by the government 116 were chosen by stratified randomization of communities. Individuals households not randomized.
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
246 communities
Sample size: planned number of observations
Community size ranges from 100-5,000 individuals and four interviews per community thus planned observations = 4,000 - 20,000 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
130 control communities, 116 treatment communities
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
Yale University
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
Innovations for Poverty Action
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
November 30, 2010, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Data Collection Completion Date
January 31, 2011, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
243 communities
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
5435 residents
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
157 control communities, 86 treatment communities
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)