Court systems across the world struggle to manage high caseloads, backlogs, and decision appeals. In the developing world, these challenges are often severe: for example, Kenyan courts are struggling to tackle a half-million case backlog, while Tanzanian courts dispose of only 60% of the cases they receive every year. An increasingly common response to these inefficiencies is a transition to ‘smart’ courts, which feature advanced informational technology, audiovisual capabilities, and integrated electronic case management systems. These innovations capture enormous amounts of new, high-frequency administrative data that has yet to be leveraged. ‘Smart’ court data could, for example, form the basis for new incentive schemes to encourage and reward efficiency, and help judges and other court employees overcome behavioral obstacles that impede performance.
In a series of linked RCTs across distinct institutional contexts—in this case India, Kenya, and Tanzania, this project will attempt to understand whether information can incentivize judicial officers to perform better through competition for rewards, or ‘nudge’ them into efficiency by helping them overcome behavioral biases. In addition, it will observe the downstream impacts on the speed and quality of justice.
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