This paper examines the linkage between mobilization and elite capture in participatory institutions using a randomized experiment in Kenya. In the treatment group, an environmental organization mobilized individuals to attend a participatory local government planning meeting.
Mobilization had a large and significant effect on citizen participation. Despite this effect, mobilization did not lead to increased adoption of either the organization’s preferred projects or the projects requested by citizens. Instead, the intervention changes the type of discrepancies observed in final allocations, indicating that elite control over planning institutions can adapt to increased mobilization and participation.