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Title Social investments of mining companies and citizen engagement in local governance
Post date 03/09/2019
C1 Background and Explanation of Rationale

This project explores how social investments by mining companies affects citizens’ perception of local governance and their willingness to engage in local decision-making processes. Burkina Faso has experienced an impressive mining boom over the last decade, with mining companies typically investing selectively in local public infrastructures and social services. Over the same period, Burkina Faso has taken numerous attempts to strengthen the role and capacity of municipal governments to provide welfare services to local populations. What do these simultaneous processes signal to local communities about the quality and legitimacy of their municipal government? Do social investments by mining companies improve or worsen citizens’ perception of their municipal government? And do mining companies’ social investments increase or decrease citizens’ willingness to engage in local governance?

Ex ante, it is plausible that social investments could either increase or decrease government legitimacy and citizen engagement. Social investment by mining companies may be considered as partial “substitutes” for the investments citizens expect from and for which they see their local government as being responsible for. By attributing relatively less social investments to their government, citizens may expect to gain less from individual participation in local governance. On the other hand, social investments by mining companies could be perceived as the result of successful government negotiation and leveraging of resources provided by mining projects for local development. This could strengthen government legitimacy beliefs and increase citizens’ expected gains from participation in local governance.

We will test these hypotheses using a survey experiment conducted on a random sample of household heads living within a 20km radius from two purposely selected large-scale mining companies operating in Burkina Faso that have both invested in social infrastructure and services in the past. Specifically, we test whether priming citizens’ to think of social investments made by mining companies as opposed to municipal governments affects citizens’ legitimating beliefs, their interest to participate in local decision-making processes and their actual participation in a training workshop on citizen participation.

C2 What are the hypotheses to be tested?

Welfare service investments by municipal governments are assumed to signal the availability of resources, the capacity and the willingness to provide for local populations.

1. Respondents believe municipal governments to be more legitimate when the community benefits from welfare services provided by municipal governments.

Social investments by mining companies in local communities might either signal that the municipal government is lacking own resources, capacity or willingness to do so itself (and therefore of lower legitimacy) or else that the local government has successfully negotiated and “imposed” the company to invest (and therefore of higher legitimacy):

2a/b. Respondents believe municipal governments to be more/less legitimate when the community benefits from social investments by mining companies.

Social investments by mining companies might either be perceived as occurring independently of local governments’ actions and influence (thereby making local governance obsolete and reducing personal gains from citizen engagement) or else as something that the local government has negotiated and imposed (thereby increasing personal gains from citizen engagement in local governance):

3a/b. Respondents are less/more willing to participate in local governance meetings when the community benefits from social investments by mining companies.

C3 How will these hypotheses be tested? *

We will test the hypotheses by means of a conceptual priming technique. Psychological priming consists of exposing citizens’ mind to a stimulus or situational cue that is likely to activate certain values, mental representations or constructs without conscious realization. Conceptual priming has become a popular tool in social psychology and recently also in development economics, including in interventions in the field.

Concretely, we will prime respondents through an audio podcast that narrates an entertaining short story about a fictive but comparable resource-rich village. Surveyors will then invite respondents to listen to one randomly selected version of the audio podcast. The different versions of the podcast will be identical, expect for the following parts:

In group 1, respondents learn that the mining company operating near the village has invested in a satisfying way in water infrastructure.

In group 2, the actor that has invested is not the mining company, but the municipal government.

In group 3, the same village and infrastructure investment is mentioned but no information is given on who has invested in it. A follow-up question will serve to measure who respondents believe is responsible for the investments.

Group 4 will receive neither information on the infrastructure, nor on the investment.

We are interested in the priming effect of hearing about social investments by mining companies versus their own municipal government on citizens’ perceptions of the quality and legitimacy of municipal government and their willingness to participate in local governance. We have multiple measures of each outcome, and also questions designed to assess whether the effect of the podcast on perceptions of governance is driven by prior experiences, perceptions and satisfaction with government, mining company and presumed negotiation power between the two actors:

Directly after hearing the podcast, respondents will be asked about whether they are satisfied with and trust the local government in the fictive village; and about whether they perceive the fictive government as effective; and about who they think citizens in the fictive village should ask for help in case the infrastructure is damaged.

Then, we will ask respondents about the performance, the effectiveness, the satisfaction and trust in their own municipal government. Also, we ask whether they would vote again for the same party, whether they would participate in a town hall meeting next month and whether they are interested to attend the townhall-meeting on citizen engagement the week after to which we will invite them. Finally, we will measure whether they actually attend the workshop.

We will test hypotheses 1 by comparing outcomes in Group 2 to outcomes in Group 4. To test hypotheses 2 and 3, we will compare outcomes in Group 1 to outcomes in Group 2, Group 3 and Group 4.

Our baseline analysis will be an OLS regression that includes dummy variables for each strata. In addition, we will run an OLS regression that also includes basic socio-demographic characteristics (age, gender, education, religion, occupation and three need-based measures of household well-being).

C4 Country Burkina Faso
C5 Scale (# of Units) 1000
C6 Was a power analysis conducted prior to data collection? No
C7 Has this research received Insitutional Review Board (IRB) or ethics committee approval? Yes
C8 IRB Number EK-2018-N-119
C9 Date of IRB Approval not provided by authors
C10 Will the intervention be implemented by the researcher or a third party? Researchers
C11 Did any of the research team receive remuneration from the implementing agency for taking part in this research? not provided by authors
C12 If relevant, is there an advance agreement with the implementation group that all results can be published? not provided by authors
C13 JEL Classification(s) not provided by authors