Improving Results for Capacity Development | World Bank Institute (WBI)

The World Bank Institute (WBI) is a global connector of knowledge, learning and innovation for poverty reduction. We connect practitioners and institutions to help them find suitable solutions to their development challenges. With a focus on the "how" of reform, we link knowledge from around the world and scale up innovations. Read More »


Forty percent of development assistance is devoted to capacity development, yet results and impact are still in question and measurement tools are imprecise. Major issues are traditional learning programs that are not strategically tied to development effectiveness, programs that are not systematically managed to achieve long-term results, and a lack of consensus in results management practices among capacity development organizations and local partners.


Senior practitioners in capacity development and leaders at development learning organizations gathered at World Bank headquarters in June 2009 to identify ways to improve learning for capacity development and define, gather, and report results.The delegates agreed that capacity development is about facilitating change within complex systems and institutional environments that often get in the way of results. One-off donor-led training must give way to integrated models of south-south and triangular exchange, sustained learning support, innovative network creations, and scaled-up local delivery through national and regional institutions.

“You cannot do capacity development for others,” said Thomas Theisohn from the Learning Network on Capacity Development. “Learning is voluntary and capacity development must be home-grown so we need to move from supply to demand, from delivery to acquisition.”

open-quotesLearning is voluntary and capacity development must be home-grown so we need to move from supply to demand, from delivery to acquisition.close-quotesThomas Theisohn, Learning Network on Capacity Development

Delegates also agreed that results must move beyond reporting outcomes of specific learning activities to measuring how capacity constraints are changed through a capacity development program. Building a consensus on these results principles and finding a harmonized approach to results management will help us to better compare and communicate on learning programs and results.


Delegates stated a common interest in collaborating to shift from silos toward regional synergies and coordinated interlinks and networks. They recognized the global mandate to build capacity for development and achieve results cannot be achieved by any single organization.

“WBI’s new strategy is to become a ‘global facilitator of knowledge and learning,'" said WBI’s VP Sanjay Pradhan. “We need to identify and share innovative approaches to learning and build leadership skills as well as the capacity of non-state actors to support accountability.”

Finding common ground among existing results frameworks, arriving at standard sets of principles in results management, and identifying good and bad practices were all acknowledged as essential to achieving development results. Delegates are considering innovative results-based management approaches for measuring institutional-level impact and network, community, or organizational learning outcomes.

To continue the discussions started at the forum, an online professional networking site,, was created. Forum delegates and development practitioners from around the world have connected and collaborated with their peers through the public site. A strategic report on the specific recommendations and action areas that came out of the forum will be released shortly.