Doctoral Student

Scott S. Lee

Scott Lee is an MD-PhD Candidate in Health Policy and Management at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Business School. His principal research interests lie in improving the delivery of primary health care both in the United States and, especially, in low- and middle-income countries. His dissertation research uses insights from organizational and behavioral economics to strengthen large-scale frontline health worker programs in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Scott graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College in 2003 with a BA in medical anthropology, comparative religion, and African studies. He then completed an MPhil in environment and development as a Gates Scholar at the University of Cambridge and an MPA in health policy at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Since 2001, Scott has spent eight summers working in rural Kenya, where he has teamed with local villagers to establish a high school, a nursery school, a microfinance program, an agricultural training program, a computer training center, and a community health clinic. In 2006, Scott co-founded a nonprofit organization, Common Hope for Health, to support the Kenyan health clinic and other community-based health initiatives in low-resource settings. He has supplemented this hands-on experience with research and policy stints at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Partners In Health in Rwanda, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Scott's work is supported by the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, the Weiss Family Program Fund, Grand Challenges Canada, the United States Agency for International Development, the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, the UBS Optimus Foundation, the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Global Health, and the International Growth Center.

Journal Articles

  1. Awards Unbundled: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment

    Nava Ashraf, Oriana Bandiera and Scott S. Lee

    Organizations often use non-monetary awards to incentivize performance. Awards may affect behavior through several mechanisms: by conferring employer recognition, by enhancing social visibility, and by facilitating social comparison. In a nationwide health worker training program in Zambia, we design a field experiment to unbundle these mechanisms. We find that employer recognition and social visibility increase performance while social comparison reduces it, especially for low-ability trainees. These effects appear when treatments are announced and persist through training. The findings are consistent with a model of optimal expectations in which low-ability individuals exert low effort in order to avoid information about their relative ability.

    Keywords: social comparison; awards; optimal expectactions; Motivation and Incentives; Status and Position; Zambia; Status and Position; Performance Expectations; Motivation and Incentives; Health Care and Treatment; Health Industry; Zambia;


    Ashraf, Nava, Oriana Bandiera, and Scott S. Lee. "Awards Unbundled: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment." Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 100 (April 2014): 44–63. View Details

Book Chapters

  1. Embracing Complexity: Toward Platforms for Integrated Health and Social Service Delivery

    Andrew Ellner, Christine Pace, Scott S. Lee, Jon Weigel and Paul E. Farmer


    Ellner, Andrew, Christine Pace, Scott S. Lee, Jon Weigel, and Paul E. Farmer. "Embracing Complexity: Toward Platforms for Integrated Health and Social Service Delivery ." Chap. 4 in Structural Approaches in Public Health, edited by Marni Sommer and Richard Parker, 47–62. Routledge, 2013. View Details

Working Papers

  1. Do-gooders and Go-getters: Career Incentives, Selection, and Performance in Public Service Delivery

    Nava Ashraf, Oriana Bandiera and Scott S. Lee

    We study how career and social incentives affect those who self-select into public health jobs and, through selection, their performance while in service. We collaborate with the Government of Zambia to experimentally vary the salience of career benefits ("doctors") vs. social benefits ("do-gooders") across districts when recruiting agents for newly created health worker jobs. We follow the entire first cohort from application to the field and measure impacts at every stage. We find that career incentives attract more qualified applicants, without displacing pro-social motivation, which is high in both treatments, or creating gender imbalances. Selection panels, however, are relatively more likely to choose men when career incentives are made salient. Over the course of one year, health workers in the career incentives treatment are more effective at delivering health services than those in the social incentives treatment, and are equally likely to remain in their posts.

    Keywords: Motivation and Incentives; Health Industry; Zambia;


    Ashraf, Nava, Oriana Bandiera, and Scott S. Lee. "Do-gooders and Go-getters: Career Incentives, Selection, and Performance in Public Service Delivery." Working Paper, July 2014. (Under review.) View Details

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. Partners In Health: HIV Care in Rwanda

    Michael E. Porter, Scott S. Lee, Joseph Rhatigan and Jim Yong Kim

    In 2005, Partners in Health (PIH) was invited by the Rwandan Ministry of Health to assume responsibility for the management of public health care in two rural districts in Eastern Rwanda and create an HIV treatment program at these sites. PIH successfully implemented a comprehensive program focusing on four principles: health systems improvement, HIV prevention and care, accompaniment, and social and economic support. By January 2007, the Rwinkwavu site had conducted 67,137 HIV tests and provided antiretroviral therapy to more than 2,000 patients, of which, fewer than 1% had been switched to second-line drug regimens, 3.8% had died, and only one patient had been lost to follow up. A costing analysis done by the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative suggested that the model could feasibly be spread to other districts. Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Executive Director of Rwanda's National AIDS Control Commission and her colleagues in the Ministry of Health are contemplating how the program could be improved and whether it should be expanded nationally.

    Keywords: Developing Countries and Economies; Health Care and Treatment; Health Testing and Trials; Medical Specialties; Service Delivery; Nonprofit Organizations; Expansion; Health Industry; Rwanda;


    Porter, Michael E., Scott S. Lee, Joseph Rhatigan, and Jim Yong Kim. "Partners In Health: HIV Care in Rwanda." Harvard Business School Case 709-474, April 2009. (Revised May 2010.) View Details