August 15, 2013 -- EDITOR’S NOTE: What is Jim Yong Kim talking about with his focus on “science of delivery?” Kevin Watkins, executive director of the Overseas Development Institute, analyzes what the World Bank chief means by pushing for better returns on both public investment and foreign aid.
When the World Bank adopts a new idea, trickle-down effects swiftly follow. So when Jim Yong Kim, the Bank’s President, announces that ”the science of delivery” will be a hallmark of his tenure, we should all sit up, pay attention and ask the obvious question — the science of what?
Recently, I’ve been conducting a strictly non-scientific survey aimed at answering that question. My unannounced telephone call to five fairly senior friends at the World Bank generated a considerable amount of head-scratching and thoughtful reflection, followed by eight different interpretations. Corridor surveys at ODI revealed surprisingly similar results. My sense is that most donor agencies, NGOs and think tanks have a sense that something important is afoot at the World Bank. They’re just not sure what it is.
My take is that Kim is highlighting a critically important issue. His starting point, as Adam Wagstaff points out in a thoughtful blog piece, is that governments have invested heavily in identifying what to deliver while neglecting how to deliver. This is a governance issue that figures prominently in our work at ODI, where service delivery is emerging as a central theme.
Read the rest of the opinion piece here.