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Using the Hawthorne Effect to Examine the Gap Between a Doctor's Best Possible Practice and Actual Performance

Kenneth Leonard () and Melkiory C. Masatu

No 36693, Working Papers from University of Maryland, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics

Abstract: Many doctors in developing countries provide considerably lower levels of quality to their patients than they have been trained to provide. The gap between best practice and actual performance is difficult to measure for individual doctors who differ in levels of training and experience and who face very different types of patients. We exploit the Hawthorne effect—in which doctors change their behavior when a researcher comes to observe their practices—to measure the gap between best and actual performance. We analyze this gap for a sample of doctors, examining the impact of the organization for which doctors work on the performance of doctors, after controlling for their ability. We find that some organizations succeed in motivating doctors to work at levels of performance that are close to their best possible practice. This paper adds to recent evidence that motivation is at least as important to health care quality as training and knowledge.

Keywords: Health Economics and Policy; Institutional and Behavioral Economics; International Development (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 34
Date: 2008
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Journal Article: Using the Hawthorne effect to examine the gap between a doctor's best possible practice and actual performance (2010) Downloads
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DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.36693

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