Understanding the Role of the World Bank Group in a Crowded Institutional Landscape [Network analysis example]

In this example, the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG - part of the World Bank Group) have used a network analysis to gain a better understanding of the role of the World Bank Group's policy interventions in the health sector in Liberia in the context of many other organisations and interventions.

This resource and the following information was contributed by Alice Macfarlan.

Authors and their affiliation

Jos Vaessen (IEG Methods Advisor) and Katsumasa Hamaguchi (Evaluation Officer, Human Development & Corporate Programs Unit)

Year of publication


Type of resource


Key features

The blog discusses how and why the IEG has used Social Network Analysis (SNA) to better understand how the WBG (in this case mainly the World Bank) positions itself in the Health Sector in Liberia.

The first SNA diagram presents the role of the WBG as a financier of the health system of Liberia, in relation to other types of organisations. The colours and size of the bubbles denote the type of organisation and the size of annual budget for health in the country.

The second diagram looks at the perceived knowledge leadership of different organisations in the health sector.

The authors present some caveats for the data - namely that the response rate of the survey used was not 100%, ideally a Social Network Analysis should have data points of all relevant units of analysis. Second, they acknowledge that institutional landscapes evolve rapidly, whereas the diagrams present only a snapshot of time. Third, they draw attention to the fact that a network diagram (as any data visualisation) is only as good as the underlying data and acknowledge the risk of response effects.

Who is this resource useful for?

  • Advocates for evaluation
  • Commissioners/managers of evaluation
  • Evaluation users
  • Evaluators
  • Those involved in evaluation capacity strengthening

How have you used or intend on using this resource?

I like this an example of seeing social network analysis applied in a real world situation. I think this works well to highlight the complexity of the donor landscape in this context, and as the authors say, presenting it this way, rather than through a logical framework, can be useful to step away from a potential "intervention-centric" bias when thinking about the context of an intervention.

Why would you recommend it to other people?

I think this is very simple and easy to parse for the novice to Social Network Analysis (and I would count myself in that category). The focus of this blog is not so much on the results, but on how and why the authors got there. This isn't a 'how-to' guide for creating social network diagrams, instead focusing on what questions the authors wanted to uncover and how this sort of analysis could help.

Related BetterEvaluation content:

For more information about Social Network Analysis, see:

Network Evaluation


A network evaluation may consider a range of questions and adopt a variety of options for undertaking the evaluation depending on factors such as the type, size, stage of development and purpose of the network. This evaluation theme page contains an overview of this type of evaluation, examples, and links to further resources, guidance and recommended tools.


Vaessen, J. and Hamaguchi, K. (2017). Understanding the Role of the World Bank Group in a Crowded Institutional Landscape. [Blog post]. Retrieved from: https://ieg.worldbankgroup.org/blog/understanding-world-bank-groups-role

'Understanding the Role of the World Bank Group in a Crowded Institutional Landscape [Network analysis example]' is referenced in: