Michael Woolcock is Lead Social Scientist in the World Bank's Development Research Group, where he has worked since 1998; for seventeen of these years, dating back to the first cohort of the MPA/ID program (2001), he has also taught part-time at Harvard Kennedy School. During periods of leave he has been the Von Hugel Visiting Fellow at the University of Cambridge (2002), the founding research director of the Brooks World Poverty Institute (now the Global Development Institute) at the University of Manchester (2006-2009), and a foundation staff member of the World Bank’s first Knowledge and Research Hub, in Malaysia (2015-2017). His current research focuses on strategies for enhancing state capability for implementation, on transformations in local social institutions during the development process, and on using mixed methods to assess the effectiveness of "complex" interventions. In addition to more than a hundred journal articles and book chapters, he is the author or co-editor of thirteen books, including Contesting Development: Participatory Projects and Local Conflict Dynamics in Indonesia (with Patrick Barron and Rachael Diprose; Yale University Press, 2011), which was a co-recipient of the 2012 best book prize by the American Sociological Association's section on international development; Building State Capability: Evidence, Analysis, Action (with Matt Andrews and Lant Pritchett; Oxford University Press, 2017), which was central to the establishment of the Building State Capability Program at the Center for International Development, and was co-lead (with Samuel Freije-Rodriguez) of the World Bank’s biennial Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report 2020: Reversals of Fortune. Most recently, he has co-edited three scholarly volumes on case studies, popular culture, and the future of multilateralism, and a book for broader audiences on development’s role in both intensifying and (potentially) resolving humanity’s greatest challenges. Operationally, his current World Bank work involves contributing to major public sector reform efforts in Cambodia and Papua New Guinea (particularly in education), to helping the Global Environmental Facility learn from its most ‘challenging’ projects, and to working with teams articulating the Bank’s new Gender Strategy and its understanding of social sustainability. An Australian national, he has a PhD in comparative-historical sociology from Brown University.
Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy
Assistant: Melissa Kappotis
Woolcock, Michael. "Assessing and Interpreting Complex Development Interventions: Three Key Principles and Two (Intractable?) Conundrums." Changing Dimensions of the International Development System: New Realities and Working Differently to Overcome Delivery Challenges. Ed. Horst Fischer, Maria Gonzales de Asis, and Anselm Schneider. Lit Verlag, 2023, 181-195.
Lewis, David, Dennis Rodgers, and Michael Woolcock. "Innovations in Translation, Advocacy, and Engagement in Global Development." New Mediums, Better Messages? How Innovations in Translation, Engagement and Advocacy are Changing International Development. Ed. David Lewis, Dennis Rodgers, and Michael Woolcock. Oxford University Press, 2022, 1-15.
Widner, Jennifer, Michael Woolcock, and Daniel Ortega Nieto. "Using Case Studies to Enhance the Quality of Explanation and Implementation." The Case for Case Studies: Methods and Applications in International Development. Ed. Jennifer Widner, Michael Woolcock, and Daniel Ortega Nieto. Cambridge University Press, 2022, 1-26.
Woolcock, Michael. "Will It Work Here? Using Case Studies to Generate ‘Key Facts’ About Complex Development Programs." The Case for Case Studies: Methods and Applications in International Development. Ed. Jennifer Widner, Michael Woolcock, and Daniel Ortego Nieto. Cambridge University Press, 2022, 87-116.
Glavey, Sarah, Oliver Haas, Claudio Santibanez, and Michael Woolcock. "Using Case Studies for Organizational Learning in Development Agencies." The Case for Case Studies: Methods and Applications in International Development. Ed. Jennifer Widner, Michael Woolcock, and Daniel Ortega Nieto. Cambridge University Press, 2022, 258-279.
Lewis, David, Dennis Rodgers, and Michael Woolcock. "The Sounds of Development: Musical Representation as (An)other Source of Development Knowledge." New Mediums, Better Messages?: How Innovations in Translation, Engagement, and Advocacy are Changing International Development. Ed. David Lewis, Dennis Rodgers, and Michael Woolcock. Oxford University Press, 2022, 19-41.
Assistant: Melissa Kappotis
Harvard Kennedy School
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