This experiment sought to investigate whether Indonesia's current system of decentralized village-based decision-making suffers from elite capture, as well as the perceived legitimacy of this system. Each village was preparing to apply for infrastructure projects as part of the Indonesian Kecamatan Development Program (KDP). The experiment randomly allocated 49 Indonesian villages to choose their projects either through a standard KDP decision-making process, in which projects are selected at two representative village meetings (one meeting to select the general project, and one meeting exclusively with women representatives to select the women's project), or through direct plebiscites, in which all villagers could vote directly at an election for their most preferred projects. To mirror the meeting-based process, in plebiscite villages two simultaneous votes were held, one in which all adults in the village were eligible to vote for the general proposal and one in which all adult women in the village were eligible to vote on the women's-specific proposal.
The experiment was conducted in two phases. First, Phase I was conducted in 10 villages in East Java Province and 19 villages in North Sumatra Province. Based on qualitative reports from Phase I areas, the experimental protocol was changed slightly, and then run again in Phase II in an additional 20 villages in Southeast Sulawesi Province. The impact on elite capture was evaluated by examining whether the types of projects chosen moved closer to the preferences of village elites and whether the location of projects moved towards wealthier parts of the villages. The impact on perceived legitimacy was evaluated by examining a wide range of measures of villagers' satisfaction with, and perceived fairness of, KDP.