Doing Development Differently at the World Bank: updating the plumbing to fit the architecture

Research reports and studies
September 2016
Katherine A. Bain with David Booth and Leni Wild

When the World Bank was founded in 1944 it was an innovation, funding infrastructure development within Europe and, subsequently, poorer nations. Seventy- five years later, there continues to be a steady demand for its lending, as the World Bank evolves just enough without changing its core business model.

Presently there are a number of initiatives underway to increase the efficiency and responsiveness of the Bank, as well as to support institutional reform. The next generation of development problems, focusing on institutional reform and changes in behaviours and incentives, are arguably more complex, concentrated in more challenging environments, and will require greater agility and innovation to ameliorate. This is therefore an opportune moment for the Bank, and other large development organisations, to reconsider their approach.

This paper describes a recent pilot attempt in the World Bank’s Nigeria country portfolio which deliberately tried to do just that. Lessons from this pilot highlight potential future reform entry points and opportunities.