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TitleWhat Lies Behind “Good” Analytical Work on Development? Four Years of Knowledge Products at the World Bank
AuthorMartín Rama Rucheta Singh Aiza Aslam
Date of Publication2024
PublisherWorld Bank
Number of Pages40
KeywordsDevelopment Economics, Policy Research, Development Effectiveness.
AbstractThe World Bank’s analytical work has a strong reputation, but its knowledge products are also perceived to be of varying quality and relevance, and the drivers of this heterogeneity are only partially understood. Building on previous evaluations, this paper adopts a production function approach to assess how budget resources, time to completion, technical skills, and institutional responsibilities affect the internal ratings and external visibility of different types of analytical tasks at the World Bank. To this effect, the paper first matches records from three unconnected electronic platforms — for internal documents, budget codes, and external publications — to assemble a comprehensive database of knowledge products and their key characteristics. With analytical documents as its unit of observation, the exercise shows that: (1) devoting more resources to analytical tasks leads to both better ratings and greater visibility; (2) both outcomes are systematically worse when a greater share of resources comes from trust funds; (3) they are also consistently worse for tasks that take longer to complete; (4) more academically oriented team leaders underperform on ratings and overperform on visibility, whereas technically solid but less stellar team leaders overperform on ratings; and (5) everything else equal, performance varies systematically with the nature of the unit in charge. The findings of the paper can be read as a cautionary note against knowledge management that is based on the counting of analytical tasks. Instead, the findings call for much stronger information systems on knowledge products, a better alignment of incentives for the units in charge, and regular evaluations in the spirit of this paper.
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