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CANCELLED: The World Bank Ends its “Doing Business” Report

Imagine that there was a nation-wide ranking system for high school seniors which used a publicized equation to compile various factors (test scores, awards, extracurriculars, essays, etc.) instead of the applications we are used to now when you were applying for college. Go one step further, you know someone in the organization who does the ranking, wouldn’t you seriously consider persuading them to improve your ranking in order to increase your chances of getting into your dream college? Now, what if you were the employee, how would you deal with the constant bombardment of offers?

This is the ethical dilemma that plagues the World Bank and its Doing Business report, the very dilemma which has resulted in the complete discontinuation of the report as of Thursday September 16th, 2021. Doing Business provided annual reportings revealing “which countries provided better or worse business environments” via global rankings calculated by data in 12 indicator areas that was collected by a “separate unit of the World Bank” (Kelley, 2021). While the report has been successful—over 3,800 directly related policy changes—there certain have been a fair share of credibility questions since its establishment in 2003. There have been irregularities connected to China, India, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, and the UAE which have done everything from almost crash the report in 2013 to most recently halting the report in August 2020. A high ranking in this report has shown to “attract investment and grow the economy” of entire countries and give the country “additional clout” with which they can use to “influence World Bank decisions about lending support and projects,” so its no surprise that there are rumors of powerful countries jeopardizing the credibility of the data used in the report (Kelly, 2021).

The decision to end the entire report came as quite a shock to the global business community since the report’s previous success paved the way for the creation of so many other international scorecards. Moving forward, it is vital that the World Bank works to ensure the credibility of its other scorecards, such as the Worldwide Governance Indicators and the Index on Women, Business, and the Law. This string of events reveals just “how difficult it is to keep politics out of politically important rankings,” which is something that I believe is only becoming increasingly important as we move toward an increasingly politically charged future (Kelley, 2021). To me, it is essential that the World Bank works out credibility issues and then launches a replacement for the recently halted report because its previous success proves that the “substantial political consequences” provide proper motivation for countries to improve their business environments (Kelley, 2021). I couldn’t imagine the offers employees in the Doing Business unit of the World Bank get from countries to modify just a few numbers or look the other way about a few small details. This story accentuates the difficulties of conducting ethical business in a world so concerned about profit and personal gain.

Original Story: Kelley, J. (2021, September 20). There’s a deeper story behind the World Bank’s ratings scandal. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/09/20/theres-deeper-story-behind-world-banks-ratings-scandal/

About Hannah VanWagner

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