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World Bank Report Signals a Shift Towards a More Open, Collaborative Approach to Knowledge

WASHINGTON, September 22, 2011 - In its first institution-wide review of its knowledge work, the World Bank is looking to increase the impact and openness of its research and advisory services.

In the report, The State of World Bank Knowledge Services: Knowledge for Development, the World Bank reviewed its $600 million in spending on research, economic and sector reports, technical assistance, and training to refocus its role in the context of new technologies, new players, and evolving client needs for perspectives on what works and what doesn’t.


“In this new world economy, good data and information will be at least as important as financial assistance,” said Robert Zoellick, World Bank Group President. “The World Bank’s ‘Open Data; Open Knowledge; Open Solutions’ initiative is already revealing the power of information. From gender equality to trade policy, the World Bank can offer a public good by generating data, sharing it, and sponsoring others who will help us democratize development.”


The report cites partner country survey results where the majority of respondents say knowledge services are the Bank’s most valuable contribution, more than twice as often as financial resources. The report also highlights a shift over time in the Bank’s knowledge work, moving away from longer, in-depth reports to shorter, timely policy notes and more hands on technical advice and guidance.


Future editions of the annual report series will focus on other aspects of knowledge, including quantifying and improving the accessibility of knowledge generated through the Bank’s lending work. This effort follows the Bank’s Open Data initiative, which has opened the Bank’s data stores, free of charge, and its Knowledge Platform initiative which is supporting the development of communities of practice and more open and collaborative ways of generating and sharing knowledge on six issues, including jobs and urbanization.


Mahmoud Mohieldin, Managing Director and chair of the Bank’s Knowledge and Learning Council, said the Bank was embarking on an effort to strengthen and modernize its knowledge services to put in place stronger results frameworks, better connecting the Bank’s knowledge work, and to move towards a more open and collaborative approach to knowledge services.


 “Knowledge is embedded in everything we do – all of our lending, policy advice, country and sector strategies, training, and partnerships. Measuring it and capturing its value is extremely challenging, as we have discovered in the course of putting this first knowledge report together.  It’s the first step in improving our services” said Mohieldin. “What is clear is how critically important knowledge is to inform policy debates and development solutions.”


The report, The State of World Bank Knowledge Services: Knowledge for Development, is available online.




In Washington: Melissa Fossberg, (202) 458-4145, cell: (202) 468-5311,; 

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