How Quickly You Learn
By admin July 8, 2014



The World Bank is in the midst of a mid-life crisis. During its last annual meeting in October 2013 the President of the World Bank, Jim Kim, announced a major reorganizational plan along with a $400 million budget cut. Since then, the Bank has attempted to change itself from an institution that just provides funding to a “solutions bank” offering lending, consulting, and technical expertise.

The last major reorganization of the World Bank was over two decades ago. The World Bank was originally organized into big project departments including various specialties with country departments separate and subordinate. This structure was abandoned due to the complaint that the project teams were insensitive to the realities of the individual countries. The Bank refocused to have a more geography-based structure with six regional departments. When Mr. Kim took over as president in 2012 he discovered an institution with regional “silos” and very little communication. As he explained, experts working on mobile banking in sub-Saharan Africa were not sharing best practices with counterparts in Central America. This lack of communication led the World Bank to propose a redesign around 14 “global practices” that focus on such challenges as agriculture, education, poverty, and water and energy.

Mr. Kim’s vision is commendable, however the reorganization is facing huge institutional resistance. Beyond complaints of poor communication, hypocrisy, and low moral, many World Bank employees fear that the Bank will lose focus on important aspects of their mission like social development. In the new plan, social development is getting lumped in with urban and rural development and many fear it will become irrelevant to the highly touted infrastructure projects.

Even though there seems to be inner turmoil, business is growing. The World Bank recently reported that support to developing countries rose sharply to $61 billion in fiscal year 2014 (up 16%). Change needs to be made but the challenge will ultimately be ensuring that the Bank adapts to its new structure quickly. As Mr. Kim stated recently during an interview with the Washington Post, “it’s not how much you know, it’s how quick you learn.”



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Thanks for sharing !

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