'Knowledge management': a case study of the World Bank's Research Department

This article looks at ‘knowledge management’, using a case study of the World Bank’s research department, located in the Bank’s Development Economics Vice-Presidency (DEC). Despite the Bank's presentation of its research arm as conducting 'rigorous and objective’ work, the author finds that the Bank’s ‘knowledge management’ involves research that has tended to reinforce the dominant neo-liberal globalisation policy agenda. The article examines some of the mechanisms by which the Bank's research department comes to play a central role in what Robert Wade has termed 'paradigm maintenance', including incentives in hiring, promotion, and publishing, as well as selective enforcement of rules, discouragement of dissonant views, and manipulation of data. The author's analysis is based both on in-depth interviews with current and former World Bank professionals and on examination of the relevant literature.