Download StudyGeneral

Study Overview

PEACEField1: Guatemala Micro Case-Study
Study is 3ie funded:
Study ID:
Initial Registration Date:
Last Update Date:
Study Status:
In Development

Throughout the world, unequal access to land and other natural resources risks conflict, both relating to access and tenure. As a consequence of such threats, governments the world over have launched land reform projects. In the last century, over one third of all countries have undergone some form of land reform process. Despite the frequency and scale of such programs, however, little is known about their effectiveness as a peacebuilding strategy. In some ways, this is understandable. Land reform is usually the endgame of a long process that establishes support for land reform. Land reform implemented against the wishes of a local population undergoing land reform is unlikely to be successful. It usually involves the treatment or large swathes of contiguous land. This poses key difficulties for the use of standard impact evaluation tools. In this work, we propose a study that borrows ideas from methods, such as encouragement experiments, that attempt to induce variation in exposure to the project within the treatment region. Specifically, we will overlay a behavioral experiment that differentially exposes individuals to information pertaining to the land registry project or a placebo project. At baseline and endline, we will test whether or not the information influences behaviors more, or less, related to the land registry project. Specifically, we will ask individuals to accept or sanction various acts of violence using vignettes. At baseline, this will allow us to provide understanding of how the project will likely be received and the theories of change at play. At endline, it will allow us to infer information about the effectiveness of the project by testing whether or not the impact of manipulating information pertaining to the project changes as a result of its implementation.

Registration Citation:

Ferguson, N.T.N., Martinez, S., Rebolledo, P., Thissen, P. and Ungwang, L. (2022). “PEACEField2 Guatemala Micro Case Study: Studying the Impact of Land Registries and Conflict Mediation on Accepting and Sanctioning Violence.”

Additional Keywords:
Peacebuilding, Guatemala, Polochic Valley, Land reform, Common resource conflict, encouragement design, behavioral economics
Secondary ID Number(s):

Principal Investigator(s)

Name of First PI:
Neil T. N. Ferguson
ISDC - International Security and Development Center
Name of Second PI:
Lame Ungwang / Paulina Rebolledo / Sebastian Martinez / Paul Thissen
ISDC - International Security and Development Center / 3ie

Study Sponsor

German Federal Foreign Office Stabilisation Platform
Study Sponsor Location:

Research Partner

Name of Partner Institution:
Type of Organization:
Research institute/University
United States

Intervention Overview


The “Promoting the Management of Social, Political and Institutional Environment to Diminish Agrarian Conflict” project aims will undertake a series of projects in the Polochic Valley to minimize conflicts between individuals and between individuals and private enterprises and the state. In this work, we are interested in two specific aspects of Component 2 of the project, which focuses on “Improving Participation of Indigenous and Peasant Communities”. The first is the production of land and people registries within 10 communities in the Polochic Valley in order to formalize rights and minimize disputes. The second involves the training of conflict mediators within the local population to resolve disputes that do arise without recourse to violence. Both components are “end games” of a broader set of programs in the region that have been implemented over the last half-decade or more. 

Theory of Change:

At the aggregate level, much has been learned about the effect of land reform programs (e.g. McKay, 2017). Countries and regions that undergo land reform tend to suffer less conflict than those that do not. Despite this, however, few analyses have been able to look at land reform at the project level (e.g. Sonnenberg et al., 2020), suggesting difficulties in drawing a theory of change from the literature, more broadly. However, we expect that the project will work through a direct and an indirect route. In the direct route, the project reduces the probability that disputes will arise due to land access or tenure, as this will be partially formalized as a component of the registry of the work. Similarly, if disputes do arise, the presence of trusted mediators should reduce the likelihood of violent resolution. Consequently, this should increase individuals’ preferences towards peaceful forms of conflict resolution, which we will test directly through our experiment. The indirect route involves increases in trust – specifically, trust in local institutions to deal with disputes satisfactorily, neutrally and objectively. Increases in trust will, too, increase preferences for peaceful forms of dispute mechanisms by increased trust and buy-in to the institutions charged with resolving these disputes. We will test this, too, through survey questions focusing on perceptions of various local institutions. 

Multiple Treatment Arms Evaluated?

Implementing Agency

Name of Organization:
Type of Organization:
NGO (International)

Program Funder

Name of Organization:
UN Peacebuilding Fund
Type of Organization:
NGO (International)

Intervention Timing

Intervention or Program Started at time of Registration?
Start Date:
End Date:
Evaluation Method

Evaluation Method Overview

Primary (or First) Evaluation Method:
Other (specify)
Other (not Listed) Method:
This study relies on an experiment that varies the salience of the project under study and the relatedness of behaviors to this project, which builds on encouragement design approaches.
Additional Evaluation Method (If Any):
Other (not Listed) Method:

Method Details

Details of Evaluation Approach:

The methodological approach builds on the ideas behind encouragement designs. In these designs, the treatment is available to all individuals in a place but they are differentially encouraged or discouraged to take it up. In a similar sense, our work focusses only on the treatment region due to difficulties in designing a suitable control group or place for land reform projects. We plan to overlay two different experimental components on the treatment region. In the first, individuals will receive background information on the requirement for this land reform and mediator training project; or a placebo project based on local agriculture improvement. To reinforce the salience of the prime, individuals will be asked whether or not they think a project of this specific design will be useful in solving the problems their communities face. In a second round, individuals will be randomly assigned to one of two behavioral conditions. The behavioral condition involves listening to a vignette about a generic form of land conflict that had arisen somewhere in Polochic Valley. Individuals will hear the experiences and actions of two of three individuals. Individual A did not resort to any dispute resolution mechanism and the situation turned violent; Individual B resorted to a local informal mechanism that resolved the matter peacefully; Individual C resorted to a national formal mechanism. Individuals will be asked how justified each approach was and the action they believe they would undertake if faced with that situation. 

Outcomes (Endpoints):

The outcome variables is the information on the acceptance or sanctioning of violence in the presence of various alternative options; and an associated range of indicators based on trust in and perceptions of the effectiveness of various (local) institutions. 

Unit of Analysis:
The unit of analysis are the 500 individuals who will be surveyed in 10 communities in Polochic Valley.

We hypothesize:

  1. Increased salience of information pertaining to the need and provision of peaceful conflict resolution and avoidance mechanisms will decrease individuals’ willingness to accept violence in the face of peaceful alternatives
    1. We will see heterogeneous outcomes, given the nature of choices available – if there is only recourse to distant, unresponsive, national-level mechanisms, people will accept violence more
  2. Increased awareness of projects design to tackle local peacebuilding needs in this matter will increase trust in and perceptions of effectiveness of local conflict-resolution institutions
  3. At endline, we will see increased sanctioning of violence in the presence of local dispute mechanisms as a result of implementation of the project
Unit of Intervention or Assignment:
The unit of randomization are individuals within the treatment regions.
Number of Clusters in Sample:
The analysis takes place within 10 clusters but these do not influence the unit of intervention discussed above.
Number of Individuals in Sample:
We plan to collect data from 500 individuals – one from each household in the treated regions.
Size of Treatment, Control, or Comparison Subsamples:
There is no direct control group. Individuals in the experiment will be randomized into one of three “cells”, with each cell containing approximately 166 individuals.

Supplementary Files

Analysis Plan:
Other Documents:

Outcomes Data

We will collect primary data from approximately 500 individuals as described above. This data will comprise a series of experimental and observational data collected from participants.
Data Already Collected?
Data Previously Used?
Data Access:
Data Obtained by the Study Researchers?
Data Approval Process:
Approval Status:

Treatment Assignment Data

Participation or Assignment Information:
Data Obtained by the Study Researchers?
Data Previously Used?
Data Access:
Data Obtained by the Study Researchers?
Data Approval Process:
Approval Status:

Data Analysis

Data Analysis Status:

Study Materials

Upload Study Materials:

Registration Category

Registration Category:
Prospective, Category 1: Data for measuring impacts have not been collected

Completion Overview

Intervention Completion Date:
Data Collection Completion Date:
Unit of Analysis:
Clusters in Final Sample:
Total Observations in Final Sample:
Size of Treatment, Control, or Comparison Subsamples:


Preliminary Report:
Preliminary Report URL:
Summary of Findings:
Paper Summary:
Paper Citation:

Data Availability

Data Availability (Primary Data):
Date of Data Availability:
Data URL or Contact:
Access procedure:

Other Materials

Survey Instrument Links or Contact:
Program Files:
Program Files Links or Contact:
External Link:
External Link Description:
Description of Changes:

Study Stopped