Skip to Main Navigation

Enabling the Private Sector ─ World Bank Conference on Public Institutions for Development

January 30-31, 2025
in Washington, DC and Online
PI Conference - call for papers header

We invite you to submit your paper to the inaugural conference on Public Institutions for Development: Enabling the Private Sector by October 31, 2024. This conference will feature academics, development organizations and policymakers to share research findings, best practices, and innovative approaches to improve public institutions, with a thematic focus on enabling the private sector.

The keynote speakers will be Rema Hanna, the Jeffrey Cheah Professor of South-East Asia Studies and Chair of the International Development Area at the Harvard Kennedy School and Karthik Muralidharan, the Tata Chancellor's Professor of Economics at the University of California, San Diego.

We define public institutions as “public sector organizations mandated with policy implementation, as well as the rules and processes that govern these organizations”. The primary examples of public institutions are ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) – public sector organizations responsible for implementing specific policy mandates. These are the meso-level government bodies tasked with the day-to-day work of policy implementation, from collecting taxes and building roads to educating children and promoting public health. As such, the effectiveness of public institutions is critical for effective policy implementation and, by extension, for development outcomes.

The private sector is a major driver of economic growth and development, but it needs a functioning public sector to thrive. The private sector creates jobs, generates income, and contributes to the overall expansion of the economy. Through entrepreneurship, innovation, and investment, it stimulates productivity and competitiveness and contributes to climate-friendly investments. Public institutions provide the public goods and services that allow households and firms to succeed, and they set and enforce the rules that enable inclusive, resilient, and sustainable economic development. Yet they often fall short and fail to meet people’s needs, demands, and expectations. As such, understanding what helps public institutions succeed – and how organizations like the World Bank can best support them – is critical for enabling private sector-led growth and development.

We welcome paper submissions, from both micro (e.g., justice institution in a particular country) and macro (e.g., justice institutions across countries) perspectives. We invite papers from multiple disciplines, including political science, economics, public policy and legal studies. Ideally, papers should inform our knowledge on public institutions and their capacity in low and middle-income countries, including on the following set of topics:

Focusing on the public sector at large:

  • The functioning of public institutions related to both organizational dimensions (human resources, financial resources, information and management systems) and governance dimensions (accountability, transparency and independence) and their capacity to implement policies.
  • Measurement and data initiatives around the capacity of public institutions with a focus on those based on micro-level data (e.g., administrative or survey).

Focusing on public institutions that can enable the private sector:

  • The functioning of regulatory institutions and their impact on the private sector.
  • The role and management of public procurement institutions and their interactions with private sector firms.
  • Theory and empirics on the risks of businesses being captured by the state, and vice-versa.


The conference will take place in person in Washington, DC, with streaming for non-presenting attendees. Presenters are expected to attend in person. The organizers will arrange travel and accommodation for invited presenters. 

The deadline for submissions is Thursday October 31st 2024 (by midnight in the EST time zone).

Papers should be sent to The e-mail should contain:

  1. the name, title and affiliated organization/institution of the main author and potential presenter
  2. the names of the co-authors
  3. an abstract of the paper
  4. the full paper as an attachment. The email subject should read, “[Submission] Public Institutions for Development Conference”
  5. the Journal of Economic Literature (JEL) classification of the paper, indicating its thematic focus.

Only papers submitted by the deadline will be considered. Notification of acceptance will be given by Friday December 132024 at the latest. Please note that in-person presentation of the accepted papers is strongly preferred. Details will be circulated after notification of acceptance.

PhD students, junior scholars, and researchers from the underrepresented groups and countries are encouraged to apply.

The best paper submission will be selected for an award, to be given at the end of the conference.