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Nature of World Bank research

Research at the Bank encompasses analytic work designed to produce results with wide applicability across countries or sectors. Bank research, in contrast to academic research, is directed toward recognized and emerging policy issues and is focused on yielding better policy advice.


Although motivated by policy problems, Bank research addresses longer-term concerns rather than the immediate needs of a particular Bank lending operation or of a particular country or sector. Activities classified as research at the Bank do not, therefore, include the economic and sector work and policy analysis carried out by Bank staff to support operations in particular countries.


Economic and sector work and policy studies take the products of research and adapt it to specific projects or country settings, whereas Bank research contributes to the intellectual foundations of future lending operations and policy advice. Both activities—research and economic and sector work—are critical to the design of successful projects and effective policy.


Areas of focus

The Bank's research reflects the breadth and depth of development concerns in agriculture and rural development, environment and energy, finance and private sector development, human development, macroeconomics and growth, poverty and inequality, and trade and international integration, all directed toward the World Bank's ultimate objective of reducing poverty in a fiscally, environmentally and socially sustainable manner.


One of the unusual, and possibly unique, features of the research department is the wide range of development issues in the program. Research is conducted both within and across several thematic teams, in collaboration with researchers in other parts of the Bank, with colleagues in universities and research institutions throughout the world, and collaborators in almost all the developing countries in which the department's work is focused.


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