In his foreword the World Bank President states: “The global development community needs to move beyond asking ‘What is the right policy?’ and instead ask ‘What makes policies work to produce life-improving outcomes?’ The answer put forward in this year’s World Development Report is better governance—that is, the ways in which governments, citizens, and communities engage to design and apply policies.”
The World Bank is restrained in its use of the term ‘political economy’, but that is what the substance of this WDR is, along with an examination of the role of law in reflecting values and interests, and shaping behaviour.
The valuable report sets out a six-step approach to what it calls the policy effectiveness cycle linking diagnosis to action and learning, and proposes the use of a number of concepts with explanatory and prescriptive power. The six steps (with associated concepts in brackets) are:
- Step 1. Diagnose. Identify the underlying functional problem (commitment, coordination, cooperation).
- Step 2. Assess. Identify the nature of power asymmetries in the policy arena (exclusion, capture, clientelism).
- Step 3. Target. Identify the relevant entry point(s) for reform (contestability, incentives, preferences and beliefs).
- Step 4. Design. Identify the best mechanism for intervention.
- Step 5. Implement. Identify key stakeholders needed to build a coalition for implementation (elites, citizens, international actors).
- Step 6. Evaluate and adapt.
The report includes an accessible 35-page overview.