Learning about Accountability: The Case of the Operations Evaluation Department at the World Bank


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Virginia Tech


For decades, the World Bank has been criticized for the social and environmental consequences of its practices in implementing projects. In response, many different groups, including NGOs, have demanded greater World Bank accountability. One avenue through which accountability can be achieved is organizational learning. The Operations Evaluations Department (OED) at the World Bank is one organization that can hold the World Bank accountable through learning. Therefore, this study examines the OED as a learning organization. It does this by applying Peter Senge's conceptualization of learning as "systems thinking." The study seeks to answer the question: Has "systems thinking" contributed to organizational learning in the case of the OED? The study finds that the answer to this question is "yes." This finding also has implications for the study of "systems thinking" itself through developing a method to measure "systems thinking" and for accountability at the World Bank through the OED organizational learning.



Organizational Learning, World Bank, Accountability, Systems Thinking