What is the WDR for, and how is it produced?

15 September 1998

Given the lack of clarity and satisfaction about how WDRs are produced, and the difficulty of persuading the authors to recognise and include alternative views, the Bretton Woods Project has written to the Bank asking for a formal explanation of its intended:

  1. overall objectives
  2. choice of topics
  3. target audience
  4. research methodology and style
  5. roles of internal and external consultation.

Replies have been received from Joe Stiglitz, WB Chief Economist (in charge of the WDR), James Wolfensohn, Bank President, and Stephen Pickford, the new UK Executive Director to the Bank and Fund. Copies or transcripts of the letters are available from the Project.

Highlights include:

Stephen Pickford: “I think you are correct to point out that there is some confusion over the status of the report. As a newcomer to the Bank, I also would welcome some clarification on the production of the report, including whether a participative approach is mandatory, or merely best practice.”

Joe Stiglitz: “the World Development Report, is one of the important vehicles the Bank has for engaging in a dialogue with the global development community … expand[ing] consultation activities, is [planned, but is] subject to limitations of time and resources”. “The report team, under the general guidance of myself and Mr Wolfensohn, [has to] integrate and synthesize the many (and often conflicting) comments received.”

James Wolfensohn: “we should not just be reciting generic answers but raising fundamental questions that have no easy answers.”