His key points:
- a multipolar global economy requires multipolar knowledge: the flow of knowledge is no longer North to South, West to East, rich to poor
- development economics is too methods driven, not sufficiently issue driven
- issues are complex, but current research is too narrowly focused and weak on external validity (does it have meaning and scalability outside of its context?)
- research needs to open its doors to those with hands on experience
- we may learn more from economic history than we do from economic models
- political economy must come back into the analytical frame
- the role of business: there have been few serious evaluations on what works to promote industry and why--they are needed
- how can the results agenda build in local ownership and participation?
- we need to understand human risks better with more research at the intersection of security, governance and development
What are the implications for the World Bank's research? This is where is gets disappointing: a series of rather modest initiatives to share data, make research user friendly, get outputs wholesaled and networked and opening up to non-elite, practitioner knowledge.
We have been doing this for years at IDS as have many outside of the Bank.
My unsolicited recommendations to Mr. Zoellick to meet his worthy goals?
- decentralise more of your research staff so they can fully understand the politics and complexity that they operate in
- recruit more non-economists - you talk about needing to reinvent development economics, but you need to reinvent research at the Bank
- recruit your research staff, whatever their disciplinary perspective, from a wider range of higher education institutions (they are dominated by US universities)
- proactively seek to understand and learn from the impact your research has or has not had on poverty and inequality