“We Need to Know What Works”

(p. A12) WASHINGTON–World Bank President Robert Zoellick challenged economists to take on tougher challenges in development economics and to consult a wider range of professionals in developing countries, opening a debate about how effectively economists have attacked problems in global poverty.

“Too often research economists seem not to start with the key knowledge gaps facing development practitioners, but rather search for questions they can answer with the industry’s currently favorite tools,” Mr. Zoellick said at Georgetown University.
. . .
“We need to know what works: we need a research agenda that focuses on results,” he said.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Michael Spence, who led a commission on economic growth, said Mr. Zoellick’s comments are “generally not only in the right direction, but very useful.” Harvard economist Dani Rodrik, who favors a stronger government hand in development, also praised the World Bank president. “The speech hits all the right notes: the need for economists to demonstrate humility, eschew blueprints…and focus on evaluation but not at the expense of the big questions,” Mr. Rodrik said.

For the full story, see:
BOB DAVIS. “World Bank Chief Ignites a Debate.” The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., SEPTEMBER 30, 2010): A12.
(Note: first two ellipses added; ellipsis in last quoted paragraph is in original.)

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