Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Keith R. Molenaar

Second Advisor

Amy N. Javernick-Will

Third Advisor

Rita Klees

Abstract

Poor performance affects one in three water and sanitation projects financed by the World Bank. The causes of poor performance in terms of cost, schedule, achievement of objectives, institutional development impact, and sustainability are not well understood. This research evaluates these five measure of performance separately and identifies factors of poor performance, rather than success factors, in order to find common weaknesses in the design and implementation of water and sanitation development projects. This research identifies the causes of poor performance and their frequencies using a multi-method analysis that includes a content analysis of post implementation project reports from the World Bank's Independent Evaluation Group and interviews with a panel of World Bank task managers. This research finds that most projects in the study population were over schedule and under cost, and a small portion of projects performed poorly in terms of objectives, institutional development, and sustainability. Multiple root causes of poor performance were identified for each measure. Insufficient institutional development is found to be one of the major determinants of project performance. Inadequate revenue, poor organization, and overly optimistic goals are other major causes of poor performance in efficacy and sustainability. The findings from this research provide a list of challenges that practitioners can plan for and mitigate in order to improve project efficacy.

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