03/27/2017 Colloquium Series - Melani Cammett: “Political Context, Organizational Mission, and the Quality of Social Services: Insights from the Health Sector in Lebanon”
From David Price
In some developing countries, non-state actors have effectively replaced or overshadow the state as providers of social welfare. In this paper, we explore whether religious or other organizational types exhibit a “welfare advantage,” or a demonstrated superiority in service delivery, as some accounts suggest. Based on a preliminary study in Lebanon, we find evidence that secular NGOs exhibit superior health care quality but little support for a faith-based welfare advantage, a counterintuitive finding in Lebanon where religious actors dominate politics and command the most extensive resources. Our tentative explanation for this finding emphasizes the ways in which the sociopolitical context shapes the choices of qualified providers to select into particular organizations and why citizens might perceive some providers as superior, irrespective of the actual quality of services delivered. A scale-up of the project, which is currently in the field, tests multiple hypotheses about the sociopolitical determinants of service quality.