The Behavioral-Economics Basis of Mutual Accountability to Achieve Food Security

James F. Oehmke, Sera L. Young, Godfrey Bahiigwa, Boaz Blackie Keizire, Lori Ann Post

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Mutual accountability is a social construct designed to overcome informational, transactional, and enforcement barriers to alignment and coordination among development stakeholders. In Africa, it has been implemented at the country and regional levels and will be presented at the African Union Summit in January 2018. However, the literature contains little on either the conceptual underpinnings of mutual accountability or its implementation in the African agricultural development context. Therefore, we reviewed the literature on mutual accountability to articulate its behavioral economics foundations. We also tested predictions using an adapted Prisoner's Dilemma model. We found several implications of mutual accountability for African development strategy within and beyond agricultural policy, including the importance of changing initial conditions to include cooperative action, the potential impermanence of cooperative action, and the importance of a critical mass of cooperating agents for maximum synergy. Finally, evidence suggests that mutual accountability processes increase the likelihood of achieving cooperative outcomes. Related Articles: Raile, Eric D., Amber N. W. Raile, Charles T. Salmon, and Lori Ann Post. 2014. “Defining Public Will.” Politics & Policy 42 (1): 103-130. Post, Lori Ann, Amber N. W. Raile, and Eric D. Raile. 2010. “Defining Political Will.” Politics & Policy 38 (4): 653-676. Elliot-Teague, Ginger. 2011. “Public' Interests and the Development of Tanzanian Environmental Policy.” Politics & Policy 39 (5): 835-861. Related Media: ECOSOC. 2014. “Mutual Accountability Explained.” This Place. 2014. “The Prisoner's Dilemma.” Post, Lori Ann. 2017. “Generating Political and Public Will for Social Change.” The World Bank.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-57
Number of pages26
JournalPolitics and Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • Africa
  • African Agricultural Development
  • African Development Strategy
  • Agricultural Policy
  • Aid Effectiveness
  • Behavioral Economics
  • Cooperative Action
  • Food Insecurity
  • Food Security
  • Mutual Accountability
  • Prisoner's Dilemma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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