Knowledge-Based Country Programs: An Evaluation of World Bank Group Experience

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The World Bank Group is currently engaged in reflection and debate on how to improve the delivery of development support. Part of this debate concerns strengthening the knowledge agenda. The findings of this evaluation are particularly relevant because they speak directly to questions that the institution is deliberating. In particular, they address four key aspects of the “science of delivery”: the role of local partners or local knowledge hubs; consultation with clients and other stakeholders in the process of designing knowledge services; delivery of knowledge on issues that are relevant to the client; and improving the way the Bank Group learns from upper-middle-income countries and intermediating this knowledge to other countries. The evaluation assesses knowledge-based activities in nine country programs selected from 48 knowledge-intensive programs supported by the Bank Group. It identifies the factors in the success or failure of those activities as they contribute to policy making or development outcomes. It also identifies areas of strength for the Bank Group as well as areas of weakness or risk. The main objective of the evaluation is to learn lessons from practices in a focus group of high-income and upper-middle-income countries that have knowledge-based programs with the Bank Group. The findings have implications for the Bank Group’s knowledge work, including governance and incentives. Over the past 15 years, Bank Group country programs have shifted toward more intensive delivery of knowledge services relative to lending, and this trend is expected to continue. The evaluation was done on economic and sector work and non-lending technical assistance activities selected from a purposive sample of knowledge-intensive country programs. In addition, the evaluation assessed International Finance Corporation Advisory Services for their synergy with the Bank’s analytical and advisory activities. The lessons from this evaluation could help leverage the Bank Group’s global knowledge to meet the needs of countries that mainly rely on knowledge services and are not pressed for financing.
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Independent Evaluation Group. 2016. Knowledge-Based Country Programs: An Evaluation of World Bank Group Experience. © Washington, DC: World Bank. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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