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University of Gothenburg

The Quality of Government´s (QoG) Best Paper Award

The Quality of Government Institute Best Paper Award is an annual prize awarded to a paper on a Quality of Government related topic, demonstrating outstanding research based on its theoretical and empirical contributions.

Call for nominations QoG Best Paper Award

The Quality of Government Institute (QoG) at the University of Gothenburg each year selects a paper to receive the best paper award for work on a QoG-related topic. The paper may be a published article or book chapter, but may also be a working paper in a university, or an otherwise established working paper series, or presented at an international academic conference. The date of publication or presentation should be between September 2020 and September 2021.

The QoG research agenda focuses on impartiality in the exercise of public power. The norm of impartiality is threatened when corruption, clientelism, favoritism, discrimination, patronage, nepotism or undue support to special interest groups occurs. We invite nominations of papers
that research any of these topics, and welcome papers with any methodological approach.

To be eligible, the author(s) must be enrolled in a PhD program or hold a higher academic rank (postdocs, assistant through full professors). Submissions are limited to one paper per author. Papers can be self-nominated or nominated by others. Nominations should provide a one page motivation for recommending the paper.

Papers will be reviewed by a panel of referees from the QoG Institute, and the award will be presented to the author(s) of a paper that demonstrates outstanding research based on its theoretical and empirical contributions.

Award: 400 Euros and a visit to the QoG Institute for a week as a guest scholar to present the paper or related research (travel costs to and from Gothenburg and accommodation in Gothenburg are covered).
The submission must:
• not exceed 12,000 words (excluding references and appendices);
• Times New Roman font, font size 12, and formatted according to a standard citation style, we accept all formats (PDF, .doc, .docx etc)
• contain tables, graphs, images, etc. within the body of the paper;
• be anonymized (author(s) name(s) should not appear anywhere in the main text);
• have a separate cover page with title, author name(s), institutional affiliation(s), and an abstract of up 250 words
• be emailed to
• be submitted no later than November 1st, 2021
If you have any questions, please contact us at:


Best regards,
The QoG Team


QoG Best Paper Award Winners


2020 Quality of Government´s Best Paper Award

Martin Ottmann, School of Government, University of Birmingham & Felix Haass, the Department of Political Science, University of Oslo for their paper "The Effect of Wartime Legacies on Electoral Mobilization after Civil War".

Abstract: Democracy depends on free and fair elections. Especially in societies emerging from civil war, the way how candidates conduct electoral campaigns determines the viability of politics through votes instead of violence. Yet, our understanding of how former rebels generate electoral support after civil war is limited. We argue that the organizational legacies of rebellion make clientelistic targeting of peace dividends an effective strategy to mobilize electoral support after civil war. We expect that prior to post-conflict elections, former rebels will target benefits to areas of wartime support; use wartime military networks as brokers to deliver those benefits; and exploit discretionary control over peace dividends to circumvent oversight when allocating electoral benefits. We combine original geospatial data on timing and location of over 2,000 tsunami aid projects with information from village-level surveys by the World Bank in post-civil war Aceh, Indonesia, to test these hypotheses. Results from difference-in-difference models suggest that wartime legacies do indeed shape how rebels capture and reallocate reconstruction aid for electoral purposes. This finding has important implications for our understanding of democracy after war and clientelism in fragile contexts.

Read the paper  The Effect of Wartime Legacies on Electoral Mobilization after Civil War”.


2019 Quality of Government´s Best Paper Award

Paola Proietti (Gran Sasso Science Institute, L’Aquila, Italy) and Davide Luca (Bennett Institute of Public Policy, Cambridge University) for the paper “Hosting to skim. Organized Crime and the Reception of Asylum Seekers in Italy”.

Abstract: Political crises and conflicts are pushing millions of asylum seekers to move in search of international protection. This paper investigates the link between organized crime and Italy’s publicly-funded asylum seekers’ reception centers. We gather municipal data on the location of reception centers and mafia activities. We exploit exogenous variation at municipal level to instrument mafia intensity, and provide robust evidence of how the presence of mafia affects the likelihood of hosting a reception center. Statistical evidence and in–depth expert interviews suggest that organized crime is correlated to the use of less transparent procedures in the tenders for the set-up of such centres.


2018 Quality of Government´s Best Paper Award

Maria Carreri, UCSD School of Global Policy and Strategy, for her paper "Can Good Politicians Compensate for Bad Institutions?"

Abstract: Can competent political leaders bring significant policy changes to communities otherwise doomed by “bad” informal institutions? This question has remained unanswered due to the lack of a convincing measure of politicians’ competence. I develop a novel survey technique to measure the administrative competence of executive politicians and apply it in interviews to 306 Italian mayors. I study the impact of mayors’ administrative competence on the policies they enact using a difference-in-differences approach. Results show that more competent mayors are associated with better policies but the association is only present in cases where the quality of informal institutions is low. In these municipalities, the election of more competent mayors translates into a more effective use of funds, an increase in long-term investments, and better service provision without an increase in taxes. Results hold across different measures of institutional quality.

Read the paper: "Can Good Politicians Compensate for Bad Institutions?"


2017 Quality of Government´s Best Paper Award

Ben Pasquale and Saad Gultzar, Harvard Kennedy School, for their paper “Politicians, Bureaucrats, and Development: Evidence from India”

Abstract: When do politicians prompt bureaucrats to provide effective services? Leveraging the uneven overlap of jurisdictions in India, we compare bureaucrats supervised by a single political principal with those supervised by multiple politicians. With an original dataset of nearly half a million villages, we find that implementation of India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the largest employment program in the world, is substantially better where bureaucrats answer to a single politician. Regression discontinuity estimates help increase confidence that this result is causal. Our findings suggest that politicians face strong incentives to motivate bureaucrats as long as they internalize the benefits from doing so. In contrast to a large literature on the deleterious effects of political interventions, our results show that political influence may be more favorable to development than is commonly assumed.

Read the paper: Politicians, Bureaucrats, and Development: Evidence from India