The Birth of Project Appraisal at the World Bank, 1945-1975
Forthcoming, Philip Scranton and Daniel Raff (eds.), The Emergence of Routines, New York: Oxford University Press, 2017
43 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2017
Date Written: December 18, 2016
Based on previously untapped archival material, this chapter discusses the establishment of the operations evaluation function at the World Bank between the mid-1960s and the early 1970s, and the conflicting visions that shaped it. The birth of the operations evaluation function at the Bank was far from linear: it involved various attempts, false starts, and discussions about the goal of project appraisal, the intellectual foundations of project evaluation, and the organizational solutions to establish an efficient and useful function. By reconstructing the long process through which the Bank established its operations evaluation function, this chapter highlights the organizational steps through which the Bank tried to make this process reasonably efficient. Also, it discusses the tension between the organizational need for evaluation as a routine process and the intrinsically uncertain nature of the knowledge produced by this process.
Keywords: World Bank, Project appraisal, Project evaluation, Operations evaluation, Cost-benefit analysis, Development projects, Development Knowledge, Albert O. Hirschman, Robert S. McNamara
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