Reflective Practice: How the World Bank Explored Its Own Biases?

Document Type: Editorial

Authors

1 Department of Health Services Research and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK

2 Department of Sociology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Abstract

While many international organisations have independent evaluations, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Health organization (WHO), uniquely the World Bank in its 2015 World Development Report sought to ascertain the potential biases that influence how its staff interpret evidence and influence policy. Here, we describe the World Bank’s study design, including experiments to ascertain the impact on Bank staff’s judgements of complexity, confirmation bias, sunk cost bias, and an understanding of the wishes of those whom they seek to help. We then review the Bank’s proposed mechanisms to minimise the impact of the biases they identified. We argue that this approach, that we refer to as ‘reflective practice,’ deserves to be adopted more widely among institutions that seek to use evidence from research to inform policy and practice.

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Commentary Published on this Paper

  • Mitigating Evidentiary Bias in Planning and Policy-Making; Comment on “Reflective Practice: How the World Bank Explored Its Own Biases?”

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