Program Overview

The program Mobilizing Knowledge to Improve Competitiveness Strategies intends to mobilize developing country researchers to produce contextualized knowledge on the issue of industrial policies. This evidence-based research conducted by developing country researchers, can make a unique contribution to the understanding of the processes through which government and companies interact to improve – or conversely penalize – industrial productivity, as well as the measurement of these impacts in developing countries.

The Global Development Network is the chosen partner of the Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice of the World Bank Group for this program, which is financed by the Competitive Industries and Innovations Program (CIIP). The duration of the program is two years from December 2015 to December 2017.


A lot of interest has been devoted recently to issues dealing with the evolution of productivity in developing countries, the role of manufacturing in the process of economic transformation, the impact of such transformation on job creation, growth and poverty reduction, and the appropriate role of the government to kick-start or support the process, an issue that is subsumed under the broad concept of “industrial policy” or “growth strategy”. Industrial policy can be thought of as the use of policy instruments to enhance manufacturing productivity growth and thus contribute to broader development goals.

The program intends to bring a new perspective to the debate on industrial policy. Rather than studying what works and what does not from a theoretical or generalizing empirical perspective, we propose to look at how some policies and initiatives work or do not work in the field. The ambition is not to generalize and draw global conclusions on the effectiveness of industrial policies. It is to document what is being done, so that governments from developing countries may have a richer set of information to take any of their decisions from. Instead of the "whether" or the "what" questions about industrial policies, we thus propose to shift to the "what for" and "how". The ambition is also to create a bottom-up movement to document policy-making from locally generated analysis and evidence and train the local research constituency in developing countries needed to carry that mission on a sustainable basis.

  • Generate quality, empirical academic knowledge locally through a careful documentation of existing policies to promote industrial productivity in four countries with a focus on manufacturing industries;
  • Inform two major research questions:
    1) What do we learn from existing industrial policy initiatives about the value (impact) and possibility of promoting successful industrialization in developing countries?
    2) What do we learn from these initiatives about the various determinants of the interaction between the private and the public sectors and about their role in the success or failure of current industrial policies?
  • Develop the thinking about industrial policy as part of a trial-and-error process that focuses on learning and implementation rather than a deterministic approach about what works and what does not.

The Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice Unit of the World Bank Group has done substantial work on understanding strategies, implementation processes and measurement in efforts to enhance productivity and, therefore, competitiveness, growth and jobs in developing countries. This work was notably featured during the October 2014 Conference it organized on New Growth Strategies in Washington DC.

The Competitive Industries and Innovation Program (CIIP), is a multi-donor partnership which aims to provide “valuable support to high potential country initiatives, and to expand the global knowledge frontier on “how to” effectively design and implement competitiveness strategies as part of a new and emerging growth paradigm.”

For further information, contact: Pierre Bertrand on