(How) Does the World Bank Learn?

Insights from a new evaluation by the Independent Evaluation Group

Speaker: Marie M. Gaarder, Manager, Public Sector Department of the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group and John R. Heath, Senior Evaluation Officer, Public Sector Department of the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group
Date: 17 June 2015, 17:45-19:00
Venue: John Snow Lecture Hall (B), LSHTM, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT

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Based on reviews of the academic and management literature, surveys and interviews with World Bank employees and case studies in seven countries, The Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) has developed a set of recommendations for strengthening the governance of learning in World Bank operations. Learning is an integral part of the project cycle but it is poorly understood and its potential for boosting the quality of the bank’s operational work is under-exploited. 

At this seminar, John Heath will examine the evidence about how the bank learns in the course of lending, with particular reference to the role of tacit knowledge and the scope for applying the recent findings from behavioural science to make project teams work more effectively. Marie M. Gaarder will address the link between learning and results, asking whether the current approach to measuring outcomes is sound enough for us to be sure that results have occurred, let alone learning. She will assess the quality of the evidence on World Bank outcomes that may be derived from impact evaluations, systematic reviews and monitoring and evaluation. Both presenters will conclude by summarising the broader implications for development work.

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