The Role of Agents and the Nature of Limitations in the Performance of Development Projects

Accesible PDF image
Feb 2024
Development practitioners aspire to improve lives, but achieving results is challenging. What prevents operations from achieving their objectives? Answering this question is critical to promote success. This Discussion Paper proposes to analyze operations first to identify if they faced limitations to effectiveness, then to identify which key stakeholders faced those limitations, and finally, whether such limitations were exogenous. Such an approach may strengthen accountability and learning. An analysis of 62 project completion reports evaluated in 2022 by the Inter-American Development Bank shows that success was contingent upon critical agents performance and the influence of exogenous factors. Four in 10 operations that failed had agents other than the executing agency face challenges. The same share of operations had agents face limitations derived from the project environment or third-party inputs beyond their control. Despite limitations, the proposed framework may provide insights for future work that promotes effectiveness.