The 2013 “One World Bank Group” strategy envisaged increasing collaboration right across the WBG. WBG joint or co-financed projects epitomize the highest form of internal collaboration at the operational level. Joint projects rest on the premise that the entire WBG is greater than the sum of its constituent parts when it comes to delivering solutions to clients and in meeting today’s complex global context. They provide a means to respond to client needs and increase WBG development effectiveness. At the corporate level, co-financing offer potential for offsetting institutional, operational and capital constraints, and for complementing the strengths of each WBG institution.

For this first IEG stocktaking of World Bank Group joint projects, determining which projects really display “jointness” has proven challenging. Although the term ‘joint project’ is often used within the WBG, staff understanding about what makes for jointness varies considerably. Nor are joint projects consistently or even accurately recorded in the respective project portfolio databases of IFC, MIGA and the WB. Efforts to determine the effectiveness, efficiency, value-added, and outcomes of joint projects lack methodological tools. Current results framework and evaluation systems remain focused on each institution’s development outcomes, role and contribution, and work quality. Evaluative evidence and lessons about what worked and how to work as a “One World Bank Group” remain scarce.

Despite these limitations, WBG joint projects have been especially helpful in high risks contexts, particularly in supporting investments in countries with low investor credit rating, Category A projects, greenfield investments, power sector PPPs, or credit lines targeted to micro and small enterprises or low income households. WBG co-financing also facilitated pioneering FDI, buttressed moves by first-time cross-border investors, and supported complex and complicated transnational projects. Through its menu of complementary products and instruments, WBG joint projects mobilized private capital for such risky projects requiring long-term financing and guarantees not readily available from foreign or local commercial sources.

While co-financed projects can be powerful and creative tools, they carry no guarantee of success. Jointness doesn’t offer a panacea. Still, in this exploration of co-financed joint projects, IEG identified good collaborative practices regardless of being unable to determine links between WBG jointness and successful project outcomes.



Joint projects work well when the WBG has a clear, even unique comparative advantage. A shared vision of the project’s business rationale and its intended results (beyond the standard project results framework and project-level indicators) helped joint project teams solve problems and overcome challenges, especially in complex joint projects.

In general, collaboration has led to more collaboration. Previous experience in joint projects provided two advantages: the ability to navigate internal processes and external coordination requirements; and having skills and confidence to be involved in other joint projects. Staff knowledge of the WBG’s different institutional mandates, products, strengths and constraints forms the indispensable foundation for understanding the WBG’s complementarity and comparative advantage. Staff cross-over from one WBG institution to another may have encouraged collaborative work because of familiarity with former colleagues and the products and processes of other WBG institutions.

Joint projects also work well when roles, division of labor and responsibilities among the different World Bank Group institutions and the respective project teams are clear. Ownership of both process and outcomes by the respective project teams and senior managements subordinated parochial institutional considerations. Skilled leadership with a collaborative personality mattered a lot in joint projects. Personality traits (such as keeping an open mind, keeping other members informed, or being adaptive and flexible) formed key attributes enabling joint teams to stay focused on the project and avoided personality conflicts. Personality has engendered joint team harmony, enabled a united stance in often demanding project environments, and avoided confusing clients. Continuity of task team leaders is also vital in building trust, strong personal links and staying committed to joint project success.

Implications for World Bank Group Management

Realism must temper expectations about rapidly increasing the number of joint projects in the future. Internal coordination, resource, policy and procedural challenges are magnified compared to single institution project. Additional resources and time are needed regardless of commitment amounts because of the intense coordination required internally and with external stakeholders. Sufficient budgets are required for the additional administrative, preparation, coordination costs of having more “jointness.” Current staff incentives, including promotions, have to recognize and reward WBG staff for working collaboratively on joint projects.

Crucially, WBG management expectations for more joint projects rest on public and private sector clients’ willingness to procure products or services from two or more WBG institutions. For clients, joint projects entailed added transaction costs due to more coordination, overlapping processes, and differing requirements. Standardization of documents can help accelerate joint projects’ timelines and minimize expensive legal fees for clients. Increased efforts to explain the nuances of different WBG instruments and financing package, especially to implementing agencies, would go a long way in their understanding about the potential additionality of blended WBG support.

But we still don’t understand fully the value-proposition of WBG joint support from our clients’ perspective. Documenting client ex ante and ex post feedback on the reasons for seeking WBG co-financing projects can go a long way in understanding the true market test and value of WBG co-financed projects.

And we still have a lot to learn about the development outcome of co-financed projects from a One WBG perspective. Current project evaluation systems remain focused on single institution. Inventive approaches, mechanisms, and methodologies to effect this reorientation need to be devised, explored, and tested.