Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Bernard Amadei

Second Advisor

Rajagopalan Balaji

Third Advisor

Rita Klees


Over the past few decades, the proportion of international development projects that have been successful has remained low across development agencies. In recent years, researchers have explored Critical Success Factors for international development projects in an attempt to explain and fix this disappointing project performance. Most of the research has been concerned with project-level factors, such as quality of monitoring, coordination and design, and many of these factors have been shown to be positively related to success. However, projects do not take place in a bubble; they are part of a complex system made up of people, governments and nature. Therefore, this study considers factors of the larger external environment, such as governance and economy. Using project data from the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group and country-level indicators from various sources, Principal Component Analysis identifies five components that describe World Bank projects: Governance, Industrialization, Economical, Technical, and Environmental. Regression shows that good governance and a high level of industrialization are strongly related to better project performance. This study explores these relationships for various project sectors and regions. Finally, this research concludes that unfavorable external conditions can be offset by improved World Bank supervision, which is associated with substantially higher project success rates.