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Weng Xi : Minimum Performance Targets, Multitasking, and Incentives: Theory and Evidence from China's Air Quality Controls

[Published]: 2021-05-10[Source]: [Browsing]:

Speaker:Weng Xi (Professor, Guanghua SchoolofManagement, Peking University)

Description:This paper examines how local Chinese officials respond strategically to minimum air quality control targets when they care more about pursuing regional economic development, which is closely linked to their career prospects. Using a novel prefecture-day level dataset on air quality and applying a regression discontinuity design, we find strong evidence that air quality tends to improve when the air quality target is doomed to fail, but deteriorates significantly after the early fulfillment of the target is guaranteed. These "asymmetric'' strategic responses are mainly driven by "outsiders''–local officials with no previous exposure to the regions to which they are assigned. Greater pressure to promote local economic development reinforces outsiders’ asymmetric responses. For "non-outsiders'' who have been promoted from the local area and who are more likely to intrinsically value the local environment, air quality performance is stable in both cases of target fulfillment. We build a simple theoretical model to rationalize these key findings. Our study sheds light on how minimum air quality targets have functioned in China's context and highlights the role of intrinsic motivations in mitigating strategic responses to minimum performance targets in a multitasking environment.

Time:May 13,2021(Thursday),15:00-16:30

Venue: Room 308,Building No.11,School of Economics