In Goma, DRC, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon describe their visit to a local hospital which treats women who were victims of sexual violence during the region's fighting. Photo taken May 2013. (Dominic Chavez/World Bank)
In Goma, DRC, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon describe their visit to a local hospital which treats women who were victims of sexual violence during the region's fighting. Photo taken May 2013. (Dominic Chavez/World Bank)

Where do good development ideas come from? This is an important question for the health of the global economy. As a former student of international development studies, my colleagues and I spent a great deal of time trying to understand how to formulate good development policies, the pitfalls to avoid and the unintended consequences of not knowing the local conditions and circumstances that lead to policy failure. The humility required of an economist or a development expert is immense. How do you prescribe ideas and policies without having lived a day in the shoes of so many people that are depending on your policy prescriptions? These are just among the kinds of issues facing the field of development policy. 

The World Bank has prided itself on being a central node in so many development projects that it gives itself a useful role to play as a depository for development ideas. It has adopted the idea of a 'knowledge bank' to reflect this. However, it is increasingly no longer the key lender of finances; nor is it the sole arbiter on who gets shrinking and valuable development money. This new reality in the global governance landscape has created a more humble World Bank. How has this change its internal and external branding as a knowledge bank?

In cooperation with my Munk School colleague Dr. Teresa Kramarz, we explore how the 'knowledge bank' role has changed throughout the years and today — in light of changing global governance realities. Using a unique theoretical framework to understand legitimacy, our new paper, published in the Review of Policy Research, provides a nuanced understanding of the opportunities and constraints before the World Bank policies and understanding of its knowledge bank role. 

To read our new publication (subscription is required), visit: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ropr.12028/abstract

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