It identifies the factors in the success or failure of those activities as they contribute to policy making or development outcomes. It also identifies areas of strength for the Bank Group as well as areas of weakness or risk. The evaluation findings are therefore relevant to current Bank Group efforts to strengthen the contribution of knowledge to development. The evaluation was done on economic and sector work and non-lending technical assistance activities selected from a purposive sample of knowledge-intensive country programs. In addition, the evaluation assessed International Finance Corporation Advisory Services for their synergy with the Bank’s analytical and advisory activities. The findings have implications for the Bank Group’s knowledge work, including governance and incentives.

The Bank Group remained a strategic partner in the focus countries by providing knowledge services that addressed one or more client needs, which ranged from customized development solutions and capacity development to experience-sharing and  innovative ideas. In the sample of countries, the Bank Group was more effective when it worked on specific sectors rather than broad topics, designed tasks to address specific client concerns, customized international best practice to local conditions, generated data to support policy making, and formulated actionable recommendations that fit local administrative and political economy constraints. The Bank Group was less effective when it did not address issues relevant to the client or was unable to follow up consistently with the client on the implementation of advisory activities. Regardless of the level of government that operated as counterpart (central or local), client participation and good monitoring and evaluation systems were key to good results.

The evaluation has implications for Bank Group work and for staff incentives. On Bank Group work, it finds a need to emphasize "how to" options rather than diagnostics and "what to do" recommendations; stay engaged and responsive through implementation phases of advisory activities (using programmatic approaches, for example); use local expertise to enhance the impact of advisory activities; design advisory projects with relevant responses to client concerns; and remain engaged in areas that are relevant to a client country's medium-term development agenda to maintain its capacity to see the big picture and provide multisectoral development solutions. On incentives, an implication is that enhancing the Bank Group's success rate on providing knowledge services will require staff incentives to be in the knowledge services business.