Enhancing the Quality of Service Delivery
January 16-17, 2017The Forum at Sasana Kijang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

We invite you to a development research conference on the delivery of key public services hosted by the World Bank Group Global Knowledge and Research Hub in Malaysia.

A core responsibility of the state is providing and overseeing key public services, such as education, health and justice. This is recognized by governments in countries at all stages of development, but implementing services of consistently high quality remains an enduring challenge. It can become a binding constraint on realizing a country’s development strategy. The presentations at this conference – which range from ‘big-picture’ overviews and systematic reviews to country case studies and front-line empirical analyses – seek to explain how capability for effective implementation of key services has been attained, sometimes in unlikely circumstances. The presentations will also elicit ideas on which those seeking to enhance the quality of service delivery elsewhere might build.

The conference will feature Lant Pritchett (Harvard Kennedy School), Emmanuel Jimenez (Executive Director, International Initiative for Impact Evaluation), Deon Filmer and Halsey Rogers (Co-Directors, World Development Report 2018, on Education), as well as senior representatives from Malaysia, South East Asian countries, and UNDP’s Global Centre for Public Service Excellence. The conference is primarily for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers, but is open to all with an interest in improving the quality of service delivery, whether based in Malaysia, the East Asia region, or elsewhere. The primary focus will be on education, though attention will also be given to implementation issues in the delivery of other key services.

Program (download)

Monday, 16 January 2017

8:30 am – 9:15 am


9:15 am – 9:30 am


Faris Hadad-Zervos, Country Manager, World Bank Malaysia
Norman Loayza, Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank Malaysia

9:30 am – 10:45 am

Session A: Keynote Address. Building State Capability: Evidence, Analysis, Action (Book launch)


Michael Woolcock, Lead Social Dev Specialist, Dev Research Group, World Bank Malaysia
Presenter: Lant Pritchett, Professor of the Practice of International Development, Harvard University
Discussants: Prof Datuk Dr. Noor Azlan Ghazali, Vice Chancellor, National University of Malaysia
Lars Sondergaard, Program Leader, Human Development & Poverty, World Bank

10:45 am –11:00 am

Coffee break

11:00 am –12:30 pm

Session B: Strategies for Enhancing Implementation Quality in Malaysia (Panel Discussion)

Chair & Moderator:

Jana Kunicova, Senior Governance Specialist, World Bank Malaysia


Dato Hadzir bin Md. Zain, Deputy Director General, ICU
Tengku Azian Shahriman,
Director, Education and Strategic Reform Initiatives, PEMANDU
Puan Khadijah Abdullah,
Chief Executive Officer, PADU

12:30 pm –2:00 pm


2:00 pm – 3:30 pm

Session C: Country Case Studies – How Capability for Implementation Was Acquired, at Scale



Rafael Munoz Moreno, Country Economist, World Bank Malaysia



Singapore – Nigel Goh, UNDP, Global Centre for Public Service Excellence, Singapore
China – Yuen Yuen Ang, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan

Discussant:   Johan Merican, Deputy Director General, Economic Planning Unit, Gov of Malaysia

3:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Coffee break

4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

Session D: Country Case Studies – Building Implementation Capability in Low-Income Countries


Sharmila Devadas, Development Research Group, World Bank Malaysia


Indonesia – Vivi Alatas, Lead Economist, World Bank, Jakarta
Vietnam – Hai-Anh Dang, Economist, World Bank, Washington

Discussant: Wei Aun Yap, Harvard School of Public Health
5:30 pm End
7:30 pm

Conference dinner (Malaysia Petroleum Club, Petronas Towers) *

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

8:30 am – 9:00 am Registration

9:00 am – 9:15 am

First Day Recap, Second Day Preview
Michael Woolcock,
Lead Social Dev Specialist, Development Research Group, World Bank Malaysia

9:15 am – 10:30 am

Session E: Roles for Research in Enhancing Development Effectiveness



Jeevakumar Govindasamy,Senior Public Sector Specialist, World Bank Malaysia


Vijayendra Rao, Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank
“Endogenizing Research in Development Projects: Lessons from India”
Discussant: Max Everest-Phillips, Director, UNDP Center for Public Service Excellence, Singapore

10:30 am – 10:45 am

Coffee break

10:45 am – 11:45 am

Session F: Generalizing and Scaling from Impact Evaluations – Virtues and Limits

Chair: Dr Subramaniam Pillay, Associate Professor, Taylor’s Business School
Emmanuel Jimenez, Executive Director, International Initiative for Impact Evaluation, Delhi
“Lessons from 3IE’s Systematic Review of Education Outcomes and School Participation”
Discussant: Tan Sri Dr Asiah Abu Samah, former Director-General of Education, Gov of Malaysia

11:45 am – 1:15 pm

Session G: Binding Constraints to Effective Service Delivery – Beyond the Usual Suspects


Julio Revilla, Lead Economist, World Bank Malaysia


Justin Sandefur, Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development, Washington
“But Will it Work Here? Implementation Capability and Procurement as Binding Constraints”

Shrayana Bhattacharya, World Bank, India Office
“Accounting for the Accounts: Unpacking the Education Bureaucracy in India”

Discussant: Dato' Dr Asma Ismail, Vice Chancellor, University of Science Malaysia

1:15 pm – 2:15 pm


2:15 pm – 3:30 pm

Session H: Empirical Strategies for Enhancing Development Outcomes


Arividya Arimuthu, Senior Public Sector Specialist, World Bank Malaysia


Young Eun Kim, Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank Malaysia
“The Role of Education in Enhancing Productivity: Some International Comparisons”

Lelo Nxumalo, Research Analyst, Bright Vision Consulting, Malaysia
“Using Micro Growth Diagnostics to Improve Development Outcomes in Malaysia”

Discussant: Abigail Tay, Professor of Economics, Asia School of Business, Malaysia

3.30 pm – 3:45 pm

Coffee break

3:45 pm – 5:30 pm

Session I: World Development Report 2018, Education: Initial Findings and Implications **

Chair: Norman Loayza, Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank Malaysia
Presenters: Deon Filmer and Halsey Rogers, Co-Directors, WDR 2018: Education; World Bank
Discussants: Akihiro Fushimi, Education Specialist, UNICEF, Bangkok
Emmanuel Jimenez, Executive Director of 3ie; Director of WDR 2007, on Youth
Hon Tan Sri Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof,
Director General, Ministry of Education, Malaysia
5:30 pm

Concluding Remarks

Michael Woolcock, World Bank Malaysia

*For conference presenters, chairs and discussants.

**This session is for registered conference attendees only; the purpose of the presentation is to elicit feedback from development professionals on a draft World Bank report.


  • Faris Hadad-Zervos

    Faris Hadad-Zervos is the World Bank Group’s Country Manager for Malaysia, and Head of the Global Knowledge and Research Hub in Kuala Lumpur. He served as Head of Mission for Iraq (2003-2005), Operations Manager for the West Bank and Gaza (2005-2008), and Country Manager for Bolivia (2012-2015). In 2008, Mr. Hadad-Zervos took a leave of absence from the World Bank to serve as the Deputy Head of the Quartet Office for the Middle East Peace Process, based in Jerusalem. He holds a Master's Degree in Economics from George Mason University, and a Master's Degree in Finance from George Washington University.
  • Norman Loayza

    Norman Loayza is a Lead Economist in the Development Research Group at the World Bank. He is currently leading the Asia hub of the Research Group, based in Malaysia. He was director of the World Development Report 2014, Risk and Opportunity: Managing Risk for Development. His research has dealt with various areas of economic and social development, including macroeconomic management, economic growth, microeconomic flexibility, private and public saving, financial depth and stability, natural disasters, and crime and violence. A Peruvian national, he holds a Ph.D in economics from Harvard University (1994).
  • Michael Woolcock

    Michael Woolcock is Lead Social Development Specialist in the World Bank's Development Research Group. He also teaches Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. His current research focuses on strategies for enhancing state capability for implementation, on crafting more effective interaction between informal and formal justice systems, and on using mixed methods to assess 'complex' development interventions. He has served on the World Bank's Social Development Board and co-founded the Justice for the Poor program was the founding research director of the Brooks World Poverty Institute at the University of Manchester and was the Von Hugel Visiting Fellow University of Cambridge. Michael completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Queensland, and has an MA and PhD in sociology from Brown University.
  • Lant Pritchett

    Lant Pritchett is Professor of the Practice of International Development at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and Senior Fellow of the Center for Global Development. He was co-editor of the Journal of Development Economics and worked as a consultant to A World Bank alumni, Lant held a number of positions in the Bank's research complex between 1988 and 1998, including as an adviser to Lawrence Summers when he was Vice President. Lant has been part of the team producing many World Bank reports, including: World Development Report 1994: Infrastructure for Development, Assessing Aid: What Works, What Doesn't and Why (1998), Better Health Systems for Indias Poor: Findings, Analysis, and Options (2003), World Development Report 2004: Making Services Work for the Poor, Economic Growth in the 1990s: Learning from a Decade of Reforms (2005). Lant graduated from Brigham Young University in 1983 with a B.S. in Economics and in 1988 from MIT with a PhD in Economics.
  • Noor Azlan Ghazali

    Professor Datuk Dr. Noor Azlan is the Vice-Chancellor of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). He heads the Economics and Finance Cluster of the National Council of Professors in Malaysia and serves as a member of the National Development & Planning Council and Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Malaysia. Professor Noor Azlan is also a Commonwealth Fellow of Financial Economics & Banking of the Association of Commonwealth Universities as well as Mason Fellow of the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Professor Noor Azlan was seconded to the Prime Minister’s Department, where he served as the Head of the Special Consultancy Team on Globalization, National Economic Action Council (NEAC), the Director of Microeconomics and Investments, National Implementation Directorate and the Director of the Malaysian Development Institute, Economic Planning Unit. Professor Noor Azlan holds a Master degree in Public Administration from Harvard University, an MBA in Finance and PhD in Economics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
  • Lars Sondergaard

    Lars Sondergaard is the Program Leader for Poverty and Human Development covering Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand. A macroeconomist by training, most of his work at the World Bank has been related to improving access to quality education. His areas of expertise include the economics of education, with a particular focus on how to improve the efficiency of public spending in education. His most recent report is on the Lao Development Report 2014: Expanding Productive Employment for Broad-Based Growth. Lars has a Ph.D. and M.A. in Economics from Georgetown University. He received a B.A. in Foreign Services (International Economics) from Georgetown University, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.
  • Jana Kunicová

    Jana Kunicová is a Senior Public Sector Specialist at the World Bank. She manages the Public Sector Performance outbound knowledge program at the World Bank’s Global Knowledge and Research Hub in Malaysia. Since joining the Bank in 2006, Jana has worked on improving public sector performance, integrity and anti-corruption systems; and political economy analysis. Jana’s regional experience spans the Europe and Central Asia and East Asia and Pacific regions, as well as several countries in southern Africa. She has managed Bank lending operations, developed strategies, and prepared analytical products in a variety of settings. Jana holds a PhD in political economy from Yale University.
  • Hadzir Md. Zain

    Mr. Dato’ Hadzir bin Md. Zain is the Deputy Director General of Implementation Coordination Unit, Prime Minister Department Malaysia (ICU JPM). The mission of ICU is to be a Central Agency That Drives the National Development Through Coordination, Monitoring, Evaluation and Implementation Of Policies, Programs and Projects With The Practice of Good Governance and Creative Work Culture, Innovative and Integrity. Mr. Hadzir bin Md. Zain has served severals Ministries and Department prior to his current appointment. He served as Assistant Secretary in Planning Division Ministries of Agriculture, Ministries of Youth and Sport. In 2000, he was assigned as a Trainer in National Institute of Public Administration (INTAN) Malaysia, until 2007. He later joined Implementation Coordination Unit Prime Minister Department Malaysia as the Kedah State Development Officer. He hold a Bsc. In Agriculture and Diploma in Public Administration as well as M.A. Socialogy U.K. (1992). Mr. Dato’ Hadzir bin Md. Zain is also serves as a board Member in Penang Development Cooperation (PDC) and Selangor Agriculture Development Cooperation (PKPS).
  • Tengku Azian Shahriman

    Tengku Azian joined the Performance Management and Delivery Unit, Prime Minister’s Department (PEMANDU) in February 2010, and she currently is the Director of Education and Strategic Reform Initiatives (SRI) - Human Capital Development. PEMANDU is tasked to assess the progress and oversee the implementation of the Economic Transformation Programme and the Government Transformation Programme. Before joining PEMANDU, she was in Investment Banking for 18 years, the last position as Head of Corporate Finance in RHB Investment Bank.
  • Khadijah Abdullah

    Khadijah Abdullah is the CEO of PADU. Her experience in Education and Training began early in her career when she served the Ministry of Education as a teacher, teacher trainer and Assistant Director in the Johor State Education Department before moving on to the corporate sector. She was the Head of Group Organisational Development for a leading Malaysian bank, where she led the establishment of its Leadership Centre. She obtained her Bachelor and Masters degrees from the University of London and holds a Diploma in Applied Linguistics with a distinction. For her work in elevating professionalism of the insurance industry in Malaysia and the emerging markets, she was honoured with an award “Asia’s Leading Woman in Finance and Investment”.
  • Rafael Muñoz Moreno

    Rafael Muñoz Moreno is the World Bank’s Senior Country Economist for Malaysia. He leads the macroeconomic and fiscal policy dialogue between the Government of Malaysia and the World Bank, contributes to the analytical and advisory work and leads the team that produces the bi-annual Malaysia Economic Monitor. Prior to moving to Malaysia, he was in Mauritius as Country Economist and Resident Representative, coordinating the World Bank work program with Mauritius and Seychelles. Mr. Muñoz holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Louvain (Belgium) and a European Doctoral Program in Quantitative Economic after attending the London School of Economics. He has published several research papers, mostly on macroeconomic policies, labor economics and business cycles.
  • Nigel Goh

    Dr Nigel Goh is the Senior Advisor at the Global Centre for Public Service Excellence of the United Nations Development Programme. One of his key areas of focus has been intrinsic motivation, an often-ignored aspect of performance effectiveness in developing country public officials. Previously, Nigel held various responsibilities at the National Parks Board Singapore, including as Director of Corporate Development and Director of Parks. In 2011, he led a major revision of the organisation’s planning cycle to align divisional work plan formulation with budget and appraisal cycles. He was the Assistant Director of the Coastal & Marine Environment Programme Office. Nigel’s experience includes academic research at the National University of Singapore (NUS), work on commercial R&D in the pharmaceutical industry; collaboration and technology marketing around intellectual property created from research at NUS. He obtained his Ph.D. in marine ecology from NUS and an MBA from the Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University.
  • Yuen Yuen Ang

    Yuen Yuen Ang is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan. Ang’s scholarship integrates the study of development, complex systems, and Chinese political economy. Prior to joining Michigan, she was on the faculty of Columbia University SIPA and graduated from Stanford University. Her book, How China Escaped the Poverty Trap, is released by the political economy series of Cornell University Press in 2016. She has received the Eldersveld Prize for outstanding research contributions from the University of Michigan’s Department of Political Science, two Early Career Fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, and a global essay prize on “The Future of Development Assistance” from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She is recently appointed a fellow of the Public Intellectual Program of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.
  • Johan Mahmood Merican

    Johan is the Deputy Director General (Human Capital) of the Economic Planning Unit, Malaysia. Prior to that, Johan was the founding CEO of TalentCorp, and championed public private partnerships to meet the nation’s talent needs. Between 2004 and 2010, Johan had served as Principal Private Secretary to the Minister in the Ministry of Finance and subsequently, in EPU, with a focus on policy development. Johan is a trained Chartered Accountant, being member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England & Wales since 1998. He graduated with a first class honours degree in Economics from the University of Cambridge.
  • Sharmila Devadas

    Sharmila Devadas is a research fellow in the Macroeconomics and Growth team of the World Bank’s Development Research Group hub in Kuala Lumpur. She has been seconded from Bank Negara Malaysia (the Central Bank of Malaysia) where she worked as a senior economist in the Monetary Policy Department. Her current research interests include macro-financial linkages, public capital and growth, and the relationship between migration and productivity. She holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, and an MSc in Economics from the University of Warwick, United Kingdom.
  • Vivi Alatas

    Vivi Alatas is a Lead Economist for the World Bank’s Poverty program in Indonesia. She leads a team of seasoned economists who prepare evidence-based analysis and policy reports on issues related to poverty reduction. Her team has produced several flagship reports for national and global audiences, including ‘Targeting Poor and Vulnerable Households in Indonesia’, ‘Making Poverty Work in Indonesia’ and most recently ‘Indonesia’s Rising Divide’. Starting her education with a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the University of Indonesia, Alatas completed her PhD and Master’s degree in Economics at Princeton University, where she was awarded full scholarship.
  • Hai-Anh H. Dang

    Hai-Anh H. Dang is an Economist in the Survey Unit, Development Data Group, World Bank. He received his BA from Foreign Trade University, Vietnam and his PhD in Applied Economics from University of Minnesota. His main research is on international development, poverty, education, and labor. He has also written a book on private tutoring in Vietnam. His research has been supported by research grants from various programs supported by DFID and the Hewlet Foundations.
  • Wei Aun Yap

    Dr Wei Aun Yap’s clinical career involved working in a wide range of clinical settings and specialties. More recently, he has been involved in health policy and social protection, working with the World Bank in Lao PDR, Indonesia, and Malaysia, and has been part of the Harvard School of Public Health team collaborating on health systems research in Malaysia. He recently co-founded a company, QuantiClear Solutions, focused on health policy and big data. He completed his basic medical education at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, before obtaining the MRCP (UK) and a Master in Public Health (Harvard).
  • Jeevakumar Govindasamy

    Jeevakumar Govindasamy is a Senior Public Sector Specialist with the World Bank Group Global Knowledge and Research Hub in Malaysia. He has been seconded from the Malaysian Government Administrative and Diplomatic Service. He has a wide range of public policy experience having posted to various agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department. He has also actively participated in various high level committees and working groups such as the Economic Transformation Program Labs and the Malaysia Development Plans Technical Committees. He holds a Masters in Public Administration from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.
  • Vijayendra (Biju) Rao

    Vijayendra (Biju) Rao, a Lead Economist in the Development Research Group, integrates his training in economics with theories and methods from anthropology, sociology and political science to study the social, cultural, and political context of extreme poverty in developing countries. He leads the Social Observatory, an inter-disciplinary effort to improve the implementation of anti-poverty projects by building their “adaptive capacity”. His research has been published in The American Economic Review, The Journal of Political Economy, the Journal of Development Economics, European Economic Review, World Development and other journals. He and Ghazala Mansuri co-authored the World Bank’s Policy Research Report on Localizing Development: Does Participation Work? which the Nobel Laureate Roger Myerson has described as “one of the most important books in development in recent years.” Dr. Rao obtained a BA in Economics from St. Xavier’s College, Bombay University, a PhD in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania and has been a Mellon Fellow at Population Studies Centers at the University of Michigan and Brown University.
  • Max Everest-Phillips

    Max Everest-Phillips has been Director of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Global Centre for Public Service Excellence in Singapore since 2013. Before joining UNDP, he was Director of Governance at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London. He started his career in the British Diplomatic Service, served as Acting Head of Profession for Governance in the UK’s Department for International Development and in 2007 was awarded a fellowship at the Overseas Development Institute. He holds Masters degrees from Johns Hopkins and the University of Pennsylvania, and a BA (1st Cl. Hons.) from Oxford University.
  • Subramaniam Pillay

    Dr. Subramaniam Pillay is currently Associate Professor at Taylor’s Business School and Programme Director for the Master of Finance Programme. From January 2006 to June 2011, he was an associate professor of international finance in the Nottingham University School of Business, University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus (UNMC). He has a B.Sc.(Hons.) degree from University Science Malaysia, an MBA from the University of California at Berkeley and a Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia. He was a member of the Asian Policy Forum set up by the Asian Development Bank Institute in Tokyo.
  • Emmanuel (Manny) Jimenez

    Emmanuel (Manny) Jimenez is Executive Director of the International Initiative on Impact Evaluation (3ie). He came to 3ie early in 2015 after many years at the World Bank Group where he provided technical expertise and strategic leadership in a number of research and operational positions including as director of the bank’s operational program in human development in its Asia regions from 2000-2012. Before joining the bank, Dr Jimenez was on the economics faculty at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. He received his Ph.D. from Brown University.
  • Asiah Abu Samah

    Tan Sri Dato Dr Asiah Abu Samah served in the Malaysian Education Service for 32 years in various capacities as teacher, lecturer, principal of secondary school and as Director of Curriculum in the MOE Malaysia for 14 years. She retired in 1993 as Director-General of Education. After retirement she joined Land & General as their Corporate Adviser (Education). From 2002-2010 she was a Commissioner with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia.
  • Julio E. Revilla

    Julio E. Revilla is a Lead Economist in the World Bank-Malaysia Knowledge and Research Hub. He was until recently a Program Leader and Lead Economist in Mozambique and Indian Ocean countries, and previously on Angola and Sao Tome and Principe. He has also worked as a Senior Country Economist in Zambia and as a Senior Economist for Brazil. He earned his M.A. and Ph. D. in Economics from Boston University. He has published on issues of macroeconomics, economic history, international finance and economic development.
  • Justin Sandefur

    Justin Sandefur is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD). Prior to joining CGD, he spent two years as an adviser to Tanzania's national statistics office and worked as a research officer at Oxford University's Centre for the Study of African Economies. His research focuses on a wide range of topics, including education, poverty reduction, legal reform, and democratic governance. He has a D.Phil in Economics from Oxford University.
  • Asma Ismail

    Datuk Prof Dr Asma Ismail is currently the first woman appointed as the Vice-Chancellor of University Sains Malaysia and previously was the first woman appointed as the Director General of Higher Education, Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia. She graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno, USA with distinction in Biology, received her MA in Microbiology from Indiana University, Bloomington, USA and obtained her Ph.D. in the field of Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Nevada, Reno, USA in 1986. Recently, she has been appointed as the President of Academy of Science Malaysia.
  • Arividya Arimuthu

    Arividya Arimuthu is a Senior Public Sector Specialist at the World Bank Malaysia office. Her current projects include land management in Malaysia, regulatory governance including reforms, as well as open data. She holds a Master of Laws (LLM) in International Business and Corporate Law from Lancaster University, and a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from the University of London, United Kingdom. She is also a Chevening Scholar. Before being seconded to the World Bank, she served as a senior diplomat at the Malaysian Mission to the European Union, in Brussels.
  • Young Eun Kim

    Young Eun Kim is an economist in the Development Research Group based in the World Bank Group Global Knowledge and Research Hub in Malaysia. Her current research is on the drivers of total factor productivity and challenges in achieving universal health coverage. She holds a PhD in health economics from the University of Basel and an M.S. in statistics from the University of Chicago. Before joining the World Bank, she worked at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and the International Vaccine Institute.
  • Lelo Nxumalo

    Mpumelelo (Lelo) Nxumalo is a graduate of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he received a Masters in Public Administration in International Development. He is currently a Senior Consultant at Bright Vision Consulting. Lelo also teaches Microeconomics and Development Studies at the National University of Malaysia Graduate School of Business. He was formerly with the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC serving as a Research Analyst in the African Department.
  • Abigail Tay

    Abigail Tay is Professor of Economics at the Asia School of Business in Kuala Lumpur. She is an applied microeconomist, with research interests in industrial organization and health economics. Professor Tay received her BA (with 1st Class Honours) from University of Cambridge and her PhD in Economics from Stanford University. Prior to moving to Kuala Lumpur, she was Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics, at Columbia University and a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Economics at Yale University.
  • Deon Filmer

    Deon Filmer is a Co-Director of the World Development Report 2018. He was previously Lead Economist in the Research Group at the World Bank, and served as Lead Economist in the Human Development department of the Africa Region. He works on issues of human capital and skills, service delivery, and the impact of policies and programs to improve human development outcomes. He has published widely in refereed journals, including studies of the impact of demand-side programs on schooling and learning; the roles of poverty, gender, orphanhood, and disability in explaining education inequalities; and the determinants of effective service delivery. He has recently co-authored books on Making Schools Work: New Evidence from Accountability Reforms and Youth Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa, and was a core team member of the World Bank's World Development Reports in 1995 Workers in an Integrating World and 2004 Making Services Work for Poor People. He holds a PhD and MA from Brown University and a BA from Tufts University.
  • Halsey Rogers

    Halsey Rogers is Co-Director of the World Development Report 2018, Realizing the Promise of Education for Development. As Lead Economist with the Education Global Practice, he led the World Bank’s global work on teacher policy, represented the Bank in negotiations on the SDG education agenda, and co-authored the Education Strategy 2020: Learning for All. Rogers has published widely in peer-reviewed journals and advised governments around the world on teacher effectiveness, service delivery, aid and development effectiveness, and other topics such as private tutoring and out-of-school youth. He also co-authored Growth and Empowerment: Making Development Happen (Oxford). Rogers has also served as an advisor to former World Bank chief economists Joseph Stiglitz and Nicholas Stern and as Senior Economist in the Research department. Prior to joining the Bank, he served with the Council of Economic Advisors at the White House, UC Berkeley, the Indonesian Ministry of Finance in Jakarta, and the Korea Development Institute in Seoul. He holds an AB from Princeton University, an MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a PhD in Economics from UC Berkeley.
  • Akihiro Fushimi

    Dr Akihiro FUSHIMI is an Education Specialist at the UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Office in Bangkok. He covers the following areas among others: Education Sector Analysis, Educational Planning and M&E, School-based Management, Out-of-School Children Initiative, Learning Assessment with a focus on the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics. Akihiro joined UNICEF as Education Specialist in Ghana and then moved to Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office in Kenya where he extensively worked around education planning/management and school improvement in over 20 countries in Africa. He also engaged with private sector fundraising and partnership when he was based in Geneva. He has a doctoral degree in education (Ed.D) from University of Sussex, specializing in school self-evaluation and decentralization of education. He obtained a master's degree in education and international development from the Institute of Education, University College of London.
  • Khair Mohamad Yusof

    Director General of Education, Ministry of Education Malaysia
    Tan Sri Dr. Khair Mohamad Yusof is the Director General of Education, Ministry of Education Malaysia. He began his career as a lecturer at Ungku Omar Polytechnic and later joined the Ministry of Education as Assistant Director of Curriculum at the Department of Technical Education (later renamed the Division of Technical and Vocational Education), where he took responsibility in overseeing the development of polytechnic, technical and vocational institutions. He has been the Director of Polytechnic Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah as well as the Director of Institute Aminuddin Baki (training institute for principals). He holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Bolton Institute of Technology, United Kingdom and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Civil Engineering from East London Polytechnic. He has a Master's Degree in Civil Engineering from University Teknologi Malaysia and a PhD in Education, University of Manchester.

The Big Stuck in State Capability for Policy Implementation
Matt Andrews (Harvard Kennedy School), Lant Pritchett (Harvard Kennedy School), and Michael Woolcock (World Bank)

We divide the 102 historically developing countries (HDCs) into those with ‘very weak’, ‘weak’, ‘middle’, and ‘strong’ state capability. Analyzing the levels and recent growth rates of the HDCs’ capability for policy implementation reveals how pervasively “stuck” most of them are. Only eight HDCs have attained strong capability, and since most of these are small (e.g., Singapore, UAE), less than 100 million (or 1.7%) of the roughly 5.8 billion people in HDCs currently live in high capability states.

Building Capability by Delivering Results: Putting Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) Principles into Practice
(From: Alan Whaites, Eduardo Gonzales, Sara Fyson and Graham Teskey (eds.) “A Governance Practitioner’s Notebook: Alternative Ideas and Approaches”. Paris. OECD)

Matt Andrews (Harvard Kennedy School), Lant Pritchett (Harvard Kennedy School), Salimah Sanji (Harvard Kennedy School), and Michael Woolcock (World Bank)

The PDIA approach argues that we don’t need more “experts” selling “best practice” solutions in the name of efficiency and the adoption of global standards; we need instead organisations that generate, test and refine context-specific solutions in response to locally nominated and prioritised problems; we need systems that tolerate (even encourage) failure as the necessary price of success.

Detours, Dead-Ends and Diversions: Singapore’s Road to Development Reconsidered
Nigel Goh (UNDP Global Centre for Public Service Excellence)

Simple models and catchy tag lines are compelling and attractive. For many, Singapore’s development success is explained by “Dream, Design, Deliver” – far-sighted vision, good plans to achieve the vision and determined implementation of those plans. This booklet argues that at least four additional factors have contributed to Singapore’s success: action orientation, the ability to experiment, the capacity and inclination to change tack when faced with failure or opportunity, and the determination to prevent politically influential vested interests forming around inefficient or ineffective policies.

How China Escaped the Poverty Trap
Yuen Yuen Ang (University of Michigan)

How China Escaped the Poverty Trap tackles a long-standing, chicken-and-egg problem in development: Is it strong institutions of governance that leads to economic growth or vice versa? Yuen Yuen Ang reveals that this debate is false. In fact, development unfolds in a three-step coevolutionary sequence: harness weak institutions to build markets > emerging markets stimulate strong institutions > strong institutions preserve markets. She illustrates this argument using rich field evidence from different locales in China. Coevolutionary sequences unfold at variant speeds across China, as geographic conditions and temporal opportunities interact with the development strategies of local state and market actors.

Ending Poverty: What Should We Learn and Not Learn from China?
A post by Yuen Yuen Ang at the Future Development blog, Brookings Institution.

Beyond Weber: Conceptualizing an Alternative Ideal Type of Bureaucracy in Developing Contexts (supplemental material)
Yuen Yuen Ang (University of Michigan)

The study of public administration in developing countries requires that we look beyond the Weberian model as the only ideal type of bureaucracy. When we assume that there exists only one gold standard of public administration, all other organizational forms that do not conform to the Weberian ideal are dismissed as corrupt or failed. Drawing on neo-institutional economics, I introduce an alternative ideal type of bureaucracy found in contemporary China. This model, which I call bureau-franchising, combines the hierarchical structure of bureaucracy with the high-powered incentives of franchising. In this system, public agencies can rightfully claim a share of income earned to finance and reward themselves, like entrepreneurial franchisees. Yet distinct from lawless corruption, this self-financing (or prebendal) behavior is sanctioned and even deliberately incentivized by state rules. Although such a model violates several Weberian tenets of “good” bureaucracy, it harnesses and regulates the high-powered incentives of prebendalism to ameliorate budgetary and capacity constraints that are common in developing countries like China.

The Impact of Education Programmes on Learning and School Participation in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
Birte Snilstveit (International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie)), Jennifer Stevenson (3ie), Radhika Menon (3ie), Daniel Phillips (3ie), Emma Gallagher (3ie), Maisie Geleen (Maxwell Stamp), Hannah Jobse (Independent Consultant), Tanja Schmidt (Independent Consultant), and Emmanuel Jimenez (3ie)

We synthesised evidence from 216 programmes reaching 16 million children across 52 low- and middle-income countries. The results demonstrate there are no ‘magic bullets’ to ensure high-quality education for all, but there are lessons to be learned for improving future education programmes.

The Post Office Paradox: A Case Study of the Block Level Education Bureaucracy
Yamini Aiyar (Accountability Initiative, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi), and Shrayana Bhattacharya (World Bank)

Elementary education administrators at the block level primarily perceive themselves, or report themselves to be, disempowered cogs in a hierarchical administrative culture that renders them powerless. They refer to their own roles and offices as “post offices,” used simply for doing the bidding of higher authorities and ferrying messages between the top and bottom of the education chain. Using the case of education delivery, this paper attempts to probe an administrator’s perspective in resolving the implementation problem at the last mile and is based on detailed primary fieldwork in Bihar and Andhra Pradesh along with some quantitative surveys conducted in Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh. It endeavours to trace the “cognitive maps” of administrators by capturing how last mile public servants see themselves and their jobs, and how notions of job performance are internalized and interpreted within the administrative context of elementary education in India.


Session A: Keynote Address. Building State Capability: Evidence, Analysis, Action (Book Launch)

Lant Pritchett


Session C: Country Case Studies – How Capability for Implementation Was Acquired, at Scale

Nigel Goh    Yuen Yuen Ang


Session D: Country Case Studies – Building Implementation Capability in Low-Income Countries 

Vivi Alatas       Hai-Anh Dang



Session E: Roles for Research in Enhancing Development Effectiveness

Vijayendra Rao


Session F: Generalizing and Scaling from Impact Evaluations – Virtues and Limits

Emmanuel Jimenez


Session G: Binding Constraints to Effective Service Delivery – Beyond the Usual Suspects

Justin Sandefur


Session H: Empirical Strategies for Enhancing Development Outcomes

Young Eun Kim         Lelo Nxumalo   




  • WHEN: Monday and Tuesday, January 16 and 17, 2017; 8:30am-5:30pm
  • WHERE: The Forum, Level 1, Sasana Kijang, No 2, Jalan Dato' Onn, 50480 Kuala Lumpur
  • RSVP: Kindly RSVP by January 10, 2017. For further logistical information, please contact Stella Ambrose (