Fonds - Records of the World Bank Institute

Identity area

Reference code



Records of the World Bank Institute


  • 1952 - 2007 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1100 feet of textual records (approximate)

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

The concept for the World Bank Institute (WBI, formerly the Economic Development Institute [EDI]) originated in the early 1950s. Bank staff recognized that the knowledge and practical experience they had accumulated should be shared and that those who would benefit most from it were key people in the governments of developing countries. In 1952, President Black appointed a committee to consider the possibility of creating an Institute of Advanced Studies in Economic Development and to make recommendations on that proposal to the Staff Loan Committee. A Report of Committee to Consider Bank Sponsorship of Institute of Advanced Studies in Economic Development was submitted to the Staff Loan Committee on July 9, 1952. Subsequently, cooperation in the form of operational and financial support from external agencies was sought; a report prepared by Bank staff entitled Preliminary Proposal for an Economic Development Institute (1953) was circulated to various government agencies, educational institutions, and private foundations. As a result, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation became involved in the endeavor, agreeing to provide half of the budget for the first three years of the Institute's operation.

The Economic Development Institute was established by the World Bank in 1955 and officially opened on January 9, 1956, on a two-year trial run basis. A.K. Cairncross, Professor of Applied Economics and Director of the Department of Social and Economic Research at the University of Glasgow, had been invited to develop the Institute in 1954 and was subsequently named the first Director of the EDI.

The Institute's objective was to help promote international development through the training of mid- and high-level officials from developing countries. Training focused on planning and managing national investments more effectively through the mobilization of knowledge and experience accumulated by the World Bank. The Bank conceived of EDI as an instrument to improve developing country governments' capacities to manage and direct the development process. In its operations it aimed to fulfill its objective through three major functions: training; institution building; and publishing.

In May 1957, the Executive Directors voted to establish the Institute as a permanent activity of the Bank. For its first two years, EDI was included as a part of the Technical Assistance and Liaison Staff but with its new permanent status it was to be considered a separate unit comparable to other Bank departments. On January 1, 1962, the Institute started reporting to the Development Services Department (DSD). However, the Institute regained its independent status and officially became a Bank department on July 27, 1964.

During its first seven years, until 1962, the EDI offered a single six-month general course that focused on the formulation and administration of policies, programs, and projects related to economic development. There were fourteen participants in the Institute's first year; in subsequent years the number of participants rose but would be limited to twenty-five. Potential participants were nominated by their respective governments and selection of participants was undertaken by an admissions committee composed of senior Bank officials. Participants who completed the courses given by the EDI received certificates as Fellows of the Institute. The EDI teaching staff consisted of Bank personnel as well as instructors from universities, government agencies, and research centers. Bank staff members were often invited to conduct sessions on subjects on which they had particular knowledge. External guest lecturers were also invited to guest lecture.

In the early 1960s, a movement towards the contextualization of courses and curricula began, as different problems and requirements for the various regions and countries were identified. In 1962, the Institute began offering a more diverse group of special courses. In the summer of 1962 a compressed ten-week general course was offered in French. A specialized course on the preparation and appraisal of development projects was offered for the first time in the spring of 1963; this marked the beginning of a trend towards focusing on the preparation and evaluation of investment projects rather than on development plans and programs. A modified project appraisal course in Spanish was also offered in the fall of 1963. Specialized sectoral courses were added over the following decade: industry projects in 1964; agricultural projects in 1965; education projects and transportation projects in1970; urbanization, advanced agricultural projects, and water supply and waste disposal projects in 1973; development banking, transportation policy planning, and agricultural processing industries in 1974; and Rural Credit in 1976. In 1973, the long General Development course was replaced with a shorter macroeconomic course called National Economic Management that provided reduced coverage of basic economic principles.

In the early 1960s, the Institute also began to organize or cosponsor ad hoc courses given outside of Washington. In 1963, a Development Program Course was organized in Seoul, Korea. In 1965 a Joint Regional Project Evaluation Course was held in Jaipur, India, and the following year a Regional Project Evaluation Course was held in Karachi, Pakistan.

EDI began publishing activities immediately following its creation. William Diamond's Development Banks (1957) and Jan Tinbergen's The Design of Development (1958) were the first two EDI publications. By the early 1970s, however, it became the policy of the Institute that EDI research and publication should be limited to material required for its own teaching. In addition to publishing, EDI began a service in 1960 that provided small libraries comprised of books, articles, and reference materials to countries where materials on economic development were unavailable.

In 1970, the EDI's principal responsibilities were described as:

  • To conduct courses on principles and practices of economic development, the formulation of economic and financial policies, and the planning and administration of development programs, with special emphasis on practical problems and the experience of the Bank Group and its member countries; the preparation and evaluation of development projects; and other subjects related to the promotion of economic growth;

  • To undertake studies related to its training program and, after approval by the Publications Committee, to prepare for publication those studies of general interest;

  • To provide, in appropriate cases, technical assistance to other institutions which have programs for training in the subjects mentioned under (1) above;

  • And to undertake other work related to the functions described above or required to perform such functions effectively.

While retaining its departmental status the Institute started reporting to the newly formed International Relations Department on March 1, 1973; the IRD was part of the Director, External Relations (DER). The DER was terminated on July 1, 1974, and replaced by the Vice President, External Relations (VPE). EDI began reporting to the VPE at this point.

The 1970s saw substantial expansion and diversification of project courses in terms of specific sectors covered and, especially, locations around the developing world where the courses were offered. In 1972-73, the Institute began to focus on increasing its ability to sponsor and participate in overseas training in cooperation with other training institutions. A rapid increase in the number of overseas courses took place during the mid- to late-1970s; by 1978, two thirds of EDI courses took place in member countries. Courses continued to be developed, teaching materials and methods tested, and teachers trained in Washington. The Bank's Regional offices, which had been provided with increased size and importance following the Bank's reorganization of 1972, cooperated with EDI with respect to course planning and organization.

The principal responsibilities of the EDI as described in 1975 were similar to those in 1970 (listed above) with the exception of an additional objective: [t]o advise and assist in the development of regional and national training institutions. In addition, EDI mirrored the Bank's concerns regarding increasingly complex economies in developing nations as well as issues of low per capita income, growing external debt and the slowdown of the world economy. The Institute addressed these concerns by placing a stronger emphasis on economic and sector studies, analysis of key policy issues, structural adjustment, and technical assistance.

In 1975, the Institute began publishing a quarterly newsletter entitled EDI Review.

In the early 1980s, the Bank established a Task Force to reassess EDI's purposes, approaches, and activities. One of the results of the Task Force's 1983 report, The Future of the Economic Development Institute, was that, on April 1, 1983, EDI was placed under the supervision of the Vice President, Operations Policy (OPSVP). The intention was to create a closer link between EDI and the Bank's Operations Complex and thus to obtain the staffing and substantive support that was deemed necessary.

The Task Force also created a broader mandate and increased activity for EDI. Four new undertakings were established in the mid-1980s: short policy-related seminars to high-level government officials that would explore issues, alternatives, and likely implementation problems in bringing about policy improvements was offered; technical and pedagogical assistance to other training institutions was increased and coordination with the Bank's Regional offices was extended; publication and distribution of training materials was increased; and the Institute's focus on the participation of sub-Saharan African countries was increased.

The Institute's repertoire of course offerings continued to be diversified throughout the 1980s. By the early 1980s, the number of seminars and courses in which EDI was directly involved rose to about 70. By 1989 over 100 training activities were offered and institutional support to 52 training institutions was planned. By this point, the nature and location of courses had also changed. By 1983, 85-90% of courses and seminars were taught in developing countries. The length of seminars ranged from less than one week to three weeks while courses ranged from four to six weeks.

The changes of 1983-84 resulted in the expansion of the Institute's organizational structure. Beginning in 1972, EDI was organized into a small number of units aligned with the sector courses being offered. After the 1983 reorganization and the increase of EDI's activities, the number of divisions and units began to grow. As the Institute's activities continued to increase in subsequent years, units and divisions changed in title. (Click here for an MS EXCEL chart of WBI/EDI's organizational history. The information for this chart was taken from World Bank organizational history charts created by Archives staff in the mid-2000s and from World Bank directories. The dates, therefore, indicate the month represented by a given chart or when a directory was published; the dates do not mean that changes to the organizational structure of WBI/EDI took place at that point.)

Two scholarships were created through the Institute in the 1980s. The Robert S. McNamara Fellowships Program was established in 1982. The fellowship, funded by the Bank and various governments, provides its recipient with full-time study or research at the postgraduate level in fields related to economic development. In 1987, the Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program was initiated. The program is funded by the government of Japan and administered by EDI. It awards scholarships to individuals from World Bank member countries to undertake graduate studies at universities throughout member countries.

As part of the Bank-wide reorganization of May 1987, EDI was moved from OPSVP to the new Senior Vice President, Policy, Planning and Research (PPR). There was, however, little change to the internal organization of the Institute. Soon after, in the spring of 1988, EDI was moved into the Development Economics Vice Presidency (DEC).

EDI continued to expand its activities in the 1990s. It opened a number of training centers in Eastern Europe and Asia. A master's degree program in economic development for officials from developing countries was created as part of the new World Bank Graduate Scholarships Program. The Institute also began expanding the type of participants it invited to take part in its programming; these included public sector enterprise managers, bankers, civil society leaders as well as opinion makers such as journalists, teachers, parliamentarians, and youth. In 1998, evaluation units and coordinators for each of the Bank's Regions were established in order to ensure the relevance of the Institute's programs and their quality and impact. The use of technological innovation was expanded in the late 1990s. This allowed distance learning to be developed and resulted in the initiation of the Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) by the World Bank in June 2000. The GDLN brings together more than 100 international learning centers (GDLN Affiliates) that offer the use of advanced information and communication technologies to people working in development around the world.

In 1999, EDI merged with the Bank's Staff Learning and Leadership Center to become the World Bank Institute (WBI). On February 1, 2000, WBI was removed from DEC and became its own Vice-Presidency: the World Bank Institute, Office of the Vice President (WBIVP).

In the years following, a renewed effort to reflect and support Bank operations was made by WBI. Courses, programs and training materials were developed that emphasized the cross sectoral and thematic approaches to development and development projects that were increasingly prevalent in Bank operations. Fifteen well-defined thematic programs were developed by the Institute in conjunction with the Bank's Regions and Networks. Responding to individual country needs also became a point of focus with the transition from individual training to the design and delivery of products and services intended to create long-term institutional capacity development.

In July of 2011, WBI launched the e-Institute, a virtual learning platform that provides access to knowledge and communities of practice to users from around the world. Online classes, podcasts, webinars, toolkits, and other resources are provided through the resource.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Records were transferred directly from the Institute to the Archives using approved records retention and disposition schedules.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The fonds consists of records related to the activities of the World Bank Institute (WBI, previously the Economics Development Institute [EDI]). Records in this fonds most commonly relate to the training and programming offered by the WBI. Topics of WBI training classes, programs, seminars and other events are generally aligned with the Bank's networks and sectors; these include, for example, training courses related to the environment, health, social protection, education, etc. Other training programs represented in these records include: Women Entrepreneurship Development (WED); Women's Management Training Outreach Program (WMTOP); Women in Enterprise Management Training Outreach Program (WEMTOP); Portuguese Speaking African Countries (PALOP); South Pacific Development Management Program (SPDMP); UNEDIL (UNDP/EDI/ILO program for Strengthening African Management Institutions in Africa); Agricultural Management Training in Africa (AMTA); Agricultural Rural Development Network (ARDNET); Gender and Developing Training Programme (GAD); and the Social Policy Reform in Transition Economies (SPRITE). Also included are records related to: programs organized in cooperation with the Joint Vienna Institute; the Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Development (FASID); Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Prior to 1994, the EDI division responsible for a training activity would, at the conclusion of the project, create a 'Master' training file. This consists of the records considered to be the essential products of the training unit. Included in these files are: terms of reference; seminar/training course programs and agendas; data on participants, including participants' registration questionnaires; activity briefs; activity completion reports; and final reports. After 1994, divisions and units sent master copies to the Internal Documents Unit (IDU) and the Infoshop for public dissemination and, consequently, no longer maintained these types of files.

The fonds contains a variety of other records related to training programs organized by WBI/EDI or in cooperation with other agencies and institutions. Records from these programs may include, but are not limited to: participants lists; activity briefs; timetables; agendas; administrative arrangements; budget information; strategic plans; mission statements; descriptions of functional responsibilities; terms of reference; program goals; structure and management records; periodic reports; policy papers; substantive correspondence; chronological files; Memoranda of Understanding; liaison reports; background information on organizations; Back-to-Office reports; and aide memoires. Program evaluation studies and impact evaluations of specific EDI programs are also included. Studies may involve use of questionnaires or site visits, and may be conducted by EDI or by cofinancing partners or external agencies.

Records relating to a program organized and provided by EDI for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to strengthen the participation of [NGOs] in the planning and execution of development policies/programs are also included. Records related to this program take the form of the training program records described previously.

Records of the African Virtual University (AVU) are also included. Records relate to: learning centers; content providers; satellite service providers; researchers; the digital virtual library; the language laboratory; accreditation; conferences, seminars, and forums. Also included are: AVUboard documents; legal documents; commitment summary reports; trust fund and budget reports; and course-related materials like those described above.

Records related to seminars organized and presented by EDI in the 1990s are included in this fonds. These include: seminar proposals; aide memoires; summary sheets; activity briefs; lists of resources and participants; evaluation reports; course curriculum; Back-to-Office reports; general correspondence; and final versions of program materials that were distributed to participants. A small amount of records relating to EDI's Senior Policy Seminars in the late 1980s are also included.

The fonds also consists of divisional and departmental work program and budget records. Divisional work program and budget records from the early to mid-1990s include: budgets; payments and expenditures; budget reviews; trust fund letters of agreement; budget and cofinancing allocation; accrual payment reports; and regional and topical work programs. The fonds also includes retrospective, quarterly, and mid-year work program and budget reviews from 1985 to 1992, as well as records related to the Institute's periodic reorganizations.

Also included in this fonds are a variety of records related to cofinancing of EDI/WBI projects and programs; these records are from the late 1980s through the 1990s. Included are fact sheets summarizing training activities undertaken in developing countries through cofinancing. These consist of: program statements; correspondence; progress reports; Summary Activity Briefs; evidence of expenditures; and related materials. The fonds also consists of correspondence with governments and international agencies regarding their commitments or intentions to participate as cofinancer or Trust Fund provider for activities/programs conducted by EDI. These records include: summaries of coordination meetings; copies of original legal agreements; copies of initiating briefs; and correspondence, reports, memos, etc., concerning expenses and the release of monies.

Thefonds also includes liaison records between EDI and various states, agencies, institutions, and international organizations. These records were created at both the divisional and departmental level and primarily take the form of correspondence. Funding, programming, and information exchange are the most common topics discussed.

The fonds contains records related to the Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program and the McNamara Fellowship Program. Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program records primarily include scholars' information (applications, reference letters, etc.) from the late 1990s through the mid 2000s. However, Steering Committee records from its inception (1987 to 1991) and Annual Reports and Director of Scholars (1990 to 1993) are also included. Records related to the McNamara Fellowship Program are similar. Records include: applicant correspondence and reference letters; applicant proposals; letters of award; payment information; quarterly progress reports; and final reports. McNamara Fellowship budget records from 1983 to 1989 relate to: scholars' tuition; travel expenses; subsistence allowances; insurance costs; and other records related to the administration of the Fellowship. An Annual Report for 1989 is included.

A variety of EDI/WBI network/departmental and divisional chronological and subject files are included in this fonds. Records include: WBIVP chronological files (2000 to 2005) and meeting files (2001 to 2003); EDI Directors' chronological files (Amnon Golan [1990 to 1994], Alexander Ter Weele [1991 to 1996] and Vinod Thomas [1995 to 1999]); Coordination and Development Administration Division (EDICD) Chief Robert Lacey (1988 to 1992); Regional Capacity Enhancement (WBIRC) Director Michael Sarvis (2003 to 2004); Joint Vienna Institute (1995 to 1998) subject files; and small amounts of EDI regional coordinators', researchers', and consultants' chronological files.

The fonds contains a variety of the Institute's publications. These include: copies of EDI Bulletins from the 1980s and 1990s; the EDI Preliminary Prospectus (1955); EDI booklets and pamphlets from the 1950s to the 1970s; copies of Selected Readings and Source Materials on Economic Development published by EDI (1963/64 and 1965/66); EDI Curricula of Courses publications (1968 to 1976); and EDI Directory of Fellows (various years, 1967 to 1980).

Records related to the Development Education Program (DEP) are included as well. The DEP, formerly the Schools Program, was begun in the late 1970s with the objective of producing and marketing education materials about economic development for secondary schools in the U.S. and other countries. Records include: published materials based on DEP materials; catalogues; marketing and outreach materials; budget and human resource records; program records; and chronological records.

The fonds also contains briefing books prepared for the WBI Vice President by WBI staff for the years 2001 to 2003. A small number of briefing books prepared for Bank President Wolfowitz (2006 to 2007) are also included.

Finally, the fonds contains records created from the early-1950s through 1968 that relate to the origins of the Institute and its early operation. These records include chronological files from 1952 to 1968 that contain correspondence between the Bank and academics, civil servants, politicians, institutions, agencies, and others. Minutes of the Bank's Staff Loan Committee that relate to EDI's creation and its early operation are also included in these files as are proposals, planning, and budget records for the creation of the EDI. Topics of other records include: EDI's library project; administration of the Institute; funding of the Institute by the Ford and Rockefeller foundations; public relations; reports to the Bank Board; reviews of the Institute; EDI Advisory Board meeting minutes; and travel. Also included are anniversary publications and transcripts of interviews of prominent EDI administrators and instructors conducted in the mid-1980s.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


Accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

The following arrangement is provisional. Records are arranged in seventeen series:

  • Master training files

  • Program records

  • Seminars

  • Program impact evaluations

  • African Virtual University (AVU) records

  • NGO program

  • Bank Group personnel training

  • Work program and budget records

  • Cofinancing records

  • Scholarship records

  • Chronological files

  • Subject files

  • External communications

  • Publications

  • Briefing books for senior officials

  • Development Education Program files

  • Early proposals and correspondence

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Records are subject to the World Bank Policy on Access to Information.

Conditions governing reproduction

Records are subject to the Copyright Policy of the World Bank Group.

Language of material

  • English
  • Spanish
  • French

Script of material

Language and script notes

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Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Record sets of each center's publications are held by that center.

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

  • See Personal Papers of Sidney E. Chernick -- Economic Development Institute chronological files (WB IBRD/IDA WB_IBRD/IDA_95-04) for records related to the Senior Policy Seminars.

  • See Records of Temporary Committees, Commissions, and Boards -- Records of the Economic Development Institute Task Force (WB IBRD/IDA COM-02).

  • See Records of Population, Health and Nutrition Sector - Knowledge and learning events (WB IBRD/IDA WB_IBRD/IDA_89-03) for records regarding EDI case studies and training courses organized by the sector units.

  • See Records of Education Sector - Operational support (WB IBRD/IDA WB_IBRD/IDA_88-08) for records of the Project Related Training Program staff of the Education Department which developed advanced courses and instructed other sector staff on project design and implementation, 1982 - 1986. Also Records of the Education Sector ? Director and Front Office records (WB IBRD/IDA WB_IBRD/IDA_88-01) for other records related to the management and oversight of the sector staff training program and PRT.

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Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used

Internal World Bank Group Archives rules based on ISAD(G).

Disclosure status

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

21 September 2012




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