In this paper, we investigate the role of School Management Committees (COGES) in Burkina Faso. These committees include elected members of each community, and are tasked with setting and implementing annual school plans. The study adopted a hybrid evaluation method incorporating a randomized controlled trial and a large-scale artefactual field experiment a la Levitt and List (2007) on public goods with monetary rewards, to closely examine unexplored issues impacting on the sustainability of community-driven projects, and to identify at least partially the mechanisms of this sustainability. We found that the COGES project significantly increased social capital in the form of voluntary contributions to public goods, especially by linking those that people can be connected to vertically. On average, the direct increase in voluntary contributions to public goods from the implementation of the COGES project was between 8.0 and 10.2%. For groups composed of school principals, teachers, and parents, the average contribution increased by between 12.7 and 24.1% through the democratic election of school management committee members, and by between 11.0 and 17.2% through the implementation of the COGES project. These results suggest that community management projects can improve local cost recovery by increasing local contributions of public goods, potentially leading to better fiscal sustainability in community-driven projects. Moreover, the results based on our hybrid experiments are largely in line with real-world decisions observed in the schools under our investigation. As a byproduct, our findings are supportive of models of other-regarding preferences.
Keywords: school-based management; randomized controlled trials; artefactual field experiments; public goods game; social capital; sustainability of development project