To implement an intervention cost effectively on a large scale, we take advantage of the Ghanaian Civil Service’s existing “Scheme of Service” (SoS) training system, under which all senior bureaucrats cycle through a two week training program at the government-run CSTC once every three to five years, depending on grade. As training completion is necessary to qualify for a promotion interview, the take-up rate for training is almost 100%. Approximately 700 bureaucrats will cycle through the SoS trainings at the CSTC in 2017, comprising one-quarter of the entire Service.
The SoS training is a standardized curriculum (available on request with associated materials) that outlines the standards and best practices of a professional civil servant. It is based on international best practices for public sector officials. It has been criticized for being too abstract and theoretical, with no lessons on how to apply the taught principles to a Ghanaian civil servants actual work. It is this concern that our intervention seeks to mitigate. Importantly, the Ghanaian SoS trainings are similar to many of those in the African region (World Bank, 2016). Our intervention is therefore designed to be a complementary addition to such trainings across the Africa region. By trying to identifying an intervention that could significantly amplify the productivity impacts of existing service trainings, we believe our experiment has substantial policy significance.
Our first experimental training treatment arm (T1) introduces a new training module on applied productivity techniques and teamwork into the individual-based SoS trainings. This new module comprises three two-hour sessions: 1) Understanding Productivity in Teams; 2) Management and Productivity in Ghana’s Civil Service; and 3) Applied Techniques for Productivity (all based on Oxford Policy Managements standard curriculum for public sector organizational change). This module replaces CSTC’s existing sessions on productivity and teamwork, which have been particularly highlighted by senior officials in Ghana for being too abstract and theoretical. The new module will be randomly included in half of all SoS individual trainings throughout the year. Individual officers will be allocated to the existing (control) or treatment productivity on arrival at the training centre.
Our second training treatment arm (T2) is a one-day follow-up training with the entire division of selected SoS participants. This group-based training will be held within three weeks after the individual bureaucrat has concluded their SoS training. The objective of these group training sessions is to increase the likelihood of new ideas from the individual-based training actually being implemented and learned from in organizations: since the focus of the trainings is on team productivity, uptake of practices and change in divisional culture may be higher when all members of the division undergo the complementary group-based training together. These trainings will be conducted at the Office of the Head of Civil Service rather than CSTC, but the themes of the trainings will be identical to T1, simply focused on group dynamics.
Approximately 100 SoS participants will be randomly selected from both T1 and non-T1 sessions, and letters sent (by the Head of Civil Service and Principal of CSTC) requiring the attendance of their entire division at the follow-up training on a mutually agreed date.