William & Mary

Reform Incentives Project Launches “Reform Efforts Survey”

A team of researchers at the Institute for the Theory & Practice of International Relations at William & Mary has launched the Reform Efforts Survey to more than 35,000 development practitioners and policymakers across 126 low and lower-middle income countries.L-R: Research Assistants Dan Kent, ’15, and Kristin Ritchey, ’16; Reform Incentives Director Brad Parks, Survey Methodologist Zach Rice; and Senior Research Assistant Ashley Napier, ’14, discuss the launch of the Reform Efforts Survey.


The Reform Efforts Survey, designed by the Making Reform Incentives Work for Developing Countries research team and conducted with the help of NORC at the University of Chicago, a social science research organization, is now underway beginning the week of May 19 for approximately twelve weeks. Incorporating lessons learned from the 2012 Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Stakeholder Survey, researchers aim to collect data that will inform and improve how international development agencies work in partnership with host countries on a variety of reform issues, from health and education to public finance. 

 According to Project Manager and Survey Methodologist Zach Rice, “The survey is unique in both its scope and design.  By collecting data on the past decade of reform efforts, responses will be categorized chronologically and by issue area, allowing for an unprecedented level of specificity and comparative breadth in drawing policy-relevant conclusions.”

 Even with such a large recipient pool, individual experience drives the design of the Reform Efforts Survey.  Described by Rice as akin to the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series of children’s books, the use of complex web programming allows for the tailoring of survey questions to the experience and expertise of each individual respondent. Rice, ’10, holds an MPP and a BA in Economics and African Studies, from the College of William & Mary.

 Because of the survey’s unique design, the Reform Incentives team has high hopes for the data it will provide. From the survey data, researchers plan to share three “top-line” findings reports with survey participants and development policymakers and academics. “Among other things, we want to develop benchmarks of development partner performance, as reported by partners and fellow stakeholders.  We want to answer an essential question: ‘What do your peers think of your organization’s advice and performance on reform issues?’”

The strength of the survey comes from its ability to compare the responses of five distinct stakeholder groups.  They include:

             -International organizations, foreign embassies and development finance agencies

            -Recipient government agencies, ministries, offices and units

            -Domestic civil society and non-governmental organizations

            -Private sector associations and chambers of commerce

            -Independent country experts from academia and the media

The Reform Incentives project is based at the Institute for the Theory & Practice of International Relations at William & Mary. For more information on Reform Incentives and its ongoing research efforts, visit: https://www.wm.edu/offices/itpir/reform_incentives/index.php