New Banks, New Opportunities for a Results Culture?
Challenges and opportunities for creating a new culture focused on results.
More often than not, evaluation is equated with blame and "gotcha" attitudes. Far too seldom, does a focus on accountability - in the sense of acting responsibly - and learning prevail.
Most of us who have worked in multilateral organizations joined them when they were fully functioning institutions, with structures, systems, and processes in place. Every multilateral organization has a corporate culture uniquely its own. This culture is formed by many factors, and manifests itself in many different ways - overtly and, more often than not, elusively through norms of behaviors. Old-timers know what they are, newcomers need to learn them to thrive in the institutional context.
A number of recent evaluations we have done at IEG show how important intangible behavioral norms are to defining culture in general, and to shaping a focus on results and (self-) evaluation in particular. Every organization I have worked at over the past 30 years has had some degree of, let's see, aversion to evaluation. More often than not, evaluation is equated with blame and "gotcha" attitudes. Far too seldom, does a focus on accountability -- in the sense of acting responsibly -- and learning prevail. And, yes, I can hear the voices murmuring: "and who's to blame for that? Of course, evaluators who behave like the inquisition!"
In IEG we have invested a lot to reverse that perception and will continue to do so. But, today, I want to speak about the challenges and opportunities for creating a new culture. This is relevant in particular in the wake of the new multilateral institutions that have been created, notably the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank. How will they fare? Will they adopt the same mind-set as existing multilateral development banks, or will they do something different?
Certainly, the odds seem stacked in a certain direction.
In spite of these challenges, I see great opportunities for the new international finance institutions - or others - to make deliberate, different choices. Especially in light of active debates about improving results culture, performance, and development outcomes in existing institutions.
The new institutions can become partner-competitors who incentivize change in the right direction, not only in terms of efficiency but also for enhancing development effectiveness and results.