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Home Publications The Impact of Ethnic Diversity in Bureaucracies: Evidence from the Nigerian Civil Service

The Impact of Ethnic Diversity in Bureaucracies: Evidence from the Nigerian Civil Service

Journal article | American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings

We document the correlation between the workplace diversity in bureaucratic organizations and public service delivery. We do so in the context of Nigeria, where ethnicity is a salient form of self-identity. We thus expand the empirical management literature highlighting beneficial effects of workplace diversity, that has focused on private sector firms operating in high-income settings. Our analysis combines two data sources: (i) a survey to over 4,000 bureaucrats eliciting their ethnic identities; (ii) independent engineering assessments of completion rates for 4,700 public sector projects. The ethnic diversity of bureaucracies matters positively: a one standard deviation increase in the ethnic diversity of bureaucrats corresponds to 9 percent higher completion rates. In line with the management literature from private sector firms in high-income countries, this evidence highlights a potentially positive side of ethnic diversity in public sector organizations, in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa.