Banking on knowledge

6 February 2001

A new book examines the World Bank’s reinvention as a “knowledge Bank” in the context of think tanks, NGOs and others trying to influence policies. Different views on knowledge production, dissemination and use in the global electronic information age are set out as a backdrop to a detailed analysis of the Global Development Network (GDN).

The GDN is a new World Bank initiative, mainly for think-tanks, which aims to encourage more research and knowledge-sharing by and between researchers based in the South. This will be achieved through a major annual conference, research projects and competitions, funding, data sharing, exchange programmes, etc. It has been established, housed and financed by the World Bank but is now moving to become an independent organization.

Banking on Knowledge editor Diane Stone discusses different networks of policy communities and advocacy coalitions and cautions that: “within the GDN, powerful political, managerial and professional interests need to be managed and negotiated”. Other contributing authors outline concerns and accusations that have been levelled at the nascent GDN, most notably that its understanding of development is too dominated by economics or is too apolitical. Knut G Nustad and Ole J Sending, for example centre their chapter on the tricky question of “the political implications inherent in defining certain propositions as ‘knowledge’, as knowledge is often used to legitimize and rationalize certain positions”. All these topics were widely discussed at the late November GDN annual meeting in Japan, details of which can be found on the GDN website.

Banking on Knowledge, the Genesis of the Global Development Network, Diane Stone (Ed.), Routledge, 2000.

Global Development Network

Real World Bank