The Independent Evaluation Group reported on the factors affecting the performance of the World Bank Group Projects and grouped the related issues into three broad categories: two at macro level (country level & political economy ) and one at micro (Project preparation & supervision); there isn’t any doubt about the importance of the listed elements that determine whether the success or the failure of the intervention: https://ieg.worldbankgroup.org/evaluations/rap2017.
However, there is a preliminary question that in our view should be answered: A successful Project for who? There are different Actors around a project: Stakeholders, Governments, Communities whose objectives, interests, expectations aren’t necessarily the same and therefore there is a continuing negotiation to reach a common agreement. The below Figure visualised the role played by them (Figure is taken from FINANCIAL INCLUSION – Give people a job, not a loan https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1116912686).
Assuming that a Project should serve the Community, there is a wide consensus on the core business of whatsoever intervention: sustainability for the providers, affordability for the beneficiaries, transparency of the interventions along with a tangible impact on the related communities. In the field reality, a compromise is a necessary step to make it the Project running and it isn’t rarely the fact that the objectives of a Stakeholder are prevailing to detriment of the others, and this factor is well-known to the Project Managers.
In our assignments we tried to apply the “Behaviour of the Actors”, which is a very important element that affects the Project’s performance and can be synthesized as follows:
– Lending partners’negative response and/or insufficient interest in managing the change,
– Donors’unsuitable intervention and late reaction to emerging & changing conditions
– Government’sweak commitment on providing enabling environment
– Management Unit’lack of expertise to reconcile interests, objectives, demand and expectations of the actors along with management practice not always equal to the task
– Borrowers’unviable requests for loans, bad repayment.
The holistic approach related to three inter-related levels:
– Enabling environment
– Organisational level
– Individual level
The enabling environment does affect the behaviour of the organisations through the incentives it creates. Every businessman faced the challenging to carry out any activities in an environment that, as a matter of fact, has disincentives. In this respect it is well-known that an incentive system helps and promote initiatives; this is why it is important to create a more enabling environment.
The organisational level again influences the organisation. To make it really happen the organisations of the institutions have to understand the market they want to serve. Accordingly, this shall be reflected in the tasks and responsibilities of the staff, namely the job descriptions.
The individual level deals with the individual capabilities and competencies of the staff and, accordingly, the training component has a special role to play.
Moreover, there is a Fourth Factor to make it a successful Project, namely the experience and expertise of the Team in charge to run the field operations on the grounds that they have to find out a welding point to get a shared consensus among the Actors. This does mean that the Project Leader should have experience and expertise in the Project related matters well above the ground.
Taking from our field experience in the related issues – in Project Evaluation – Impact assessment Supervision – Governance – in Netherlands Antilles, Cameroon, Mali, Caribbean, Kosovo, Guinea-Conakry, Azerbaijan, Malawi, Bosnia, Montenegro, West Indies, Niger, Algeria and Morocco (2), we spent most of our time talking to each one and every Actor either directly involved in the Project or external influential persons. This was a very useful approach to understand the reasons behind the management’s decisions.
We do recall cases on the matter: in Malawi (1994) and Uzbekistan (1996) for Projects sponsored by, respectively, by the WB Group and UNDP/FAO. There was a lot of discussions on interest rate level to apply to the Project’s Beneficiaries, sustainability being at stake; eventually, we proposed to have the Inflation Factor published by the Central Bank as a reference in point, which was appreciated by the GVT Authorities and accepted by the other Stakeholders despite its level didn’t completely protect against the probable credit risk.