Woolcock, Michael

Development Research Group
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Social development, Research methods, Institutions, Poverty, Community Driven Development, Governance, Conflict
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Last updated June 24, 2023
Michael Woolcock is the lead social scientist in the Development Research Group at the World Bank, where he has worked since 1998. For 14 of these years he has also taught (part-time) at Harvard Kennedy School, with periods of leave spent at the University of Cambridge (2002) and the University of Manchester (2007–09). In 2015-17 he also helped establish the World Bank’s first Knowledge and Research Hub, in Kuala Lumpur. His current research focuses on strategies for enhancing the effectiveness of policy implementation, extending work addressed in his recent book, Building State Capability: Evidence, Analysis, Action (with Matt Andrews and Lant Pritchett; Oxford University Press, 2017). Michael is a co-recipient of the American Sociological Association’s awards for best book (2012) and best article (2014) on economic development.
Citations 433 Scopus

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Now showing 1 - 2 of 2
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    Alternative Paths to Public Financial Management and Public Sector Reform: Experiences from East Asia
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018-06-26) So, Sokbunthoeun ; Woolcock, Michael ; April, Leah ; Hughes, Caroline ; Smithers, Nicola ; So, Sokbunthoeun ; Woolcock, Michael ; April, Leah ; Hughes, Caroline ; Smithers, Nicola
    Reforming public-sector organizations--their structures, policies, processes and practices--is notoriously difficult, in rich and poor countries alike. Even in the most favorable of circumstances, the scale and complexity of the tasks to be undertaken are enormous, requiring levels of coordination and collaboration that may be without precedent for those involved. Entirely new skills may need to be acquired by tens of thousands of people. Compounding these logistical challenges is the pervasive reality that circumstances often are not favorable to large-scale reform. Whether a country is rich or poor, the choice is not whether, but how, to reform the public sector--how optimal design characteristics, robust political support, and enhanced organizational capability to implement and adapt will be forged over time. This edited volume helps address the “how” question. It brings together reform experiences in public financial management and the public sector more broadly from eight country cases in East Asia: Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, and Vietnam. These countries are at different stages of reform; most of the reform efforts would qualify as successes, while some had mixed outcomes, and others could be considered failures. The focus of each chapter is less on formally demonstrating success (or not) of specific reform, but on documenting how reformers maneuvered within different country contexts to achieve specific outcomes. Despite the great difficulty in reforming the public sector, decision-makers can draw renewed energy and inspiration, learning from those countries, sectors, and subnational spaces where substantive (not merely cosmetic) change has been achieved, and they can identify what pitfalls to avoid.
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    Documenting Myanmar's Social Transformation: Insights from Six Rounds of Research on Livelihoods and Social Change in Rural Communities
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2017-05) Pursch, Samuel ; Woodhouse, Andrea ; Woolcock, Michael ; Zurstrassen, Matthew
    This paper presents the initial findings from six rounds of research conducted between 2012 and 2016 on livelihoods and social change in rural Myanmar, undertaken as part of the Qualitative Social and Economic Monitoring initiative. These data provide unique insights into the ways in which broad processes of democratization and globalization -- put into effect following Myanmar's historic reforms beginning in 2011 -- are experienced at the village level. The analysis focuses on three key aspects of the "social contract": local governance mechanisms, shifting expectations of the state, and changes in the types of networks connecting villagers to regional and global markets. Remarkable social progress has been made in Myanmar since 2012, yet there are no grounds for complacency. Managing ongoing transformations in these three domains, in ways perceived to be locally legitimate and effective, will be crucial if the initial gains are to be consolidated and expanded.