Erik Johnson and Diane Stone
In December 1999, the Global Development Network (GDN)-an association of research institutes and think tanks-was launched by the World Bank in cooperation with the United Nations, the governments of Japan, Germany and Switzerland, a group of regional research networks, and a number of other international development institutions. This initiative is designed to enhance the quality and availability of policy-oriented research, strengthen the institutions that undertake this work and offer networking opportunities in order to address better the causes and possible solutions to poverty and meet the challenges of development. The GDN seeks to support the work of think tanks, research institutes and development researchers by providing better information about and access to resources such as research funds and professional development programmes. It also helps to coordinate and disseminate research efforts and build capacity for institutes and individuals in developing countries. Another important role of the GDN is the multi-disciplinary concern to forge political, sociological, economic, anthropological and other research to inform policy making at a national level as well as in international organisations.
The GDN has a longer history than that marked by the first GDN conference in 1999-GDN99. It was pre-dated by a number of regional meetings of think tanks, consultative discussions and initiatives designed to generate new research. Accordingly, the first section of this introductory chapter outlines the gestation of the network prior to GDN99, while the second section focuses on the planning and activities surrounding the GDN99 conference in Bonn, Germany. The final section addresses issues surrounding the future development of the GDN. The chapters that follow were first prepared for the inaugural meeting of the GDN. Therefore, they represent much of the conceptual underpinning of the initiative and the first in-depth examination of the core issues and debates it seeks to address.
The World Bank has not been alone in initiating dialogues with research institutes and think tanks. A number of international organisations have engaged with institutes for years, albeit on a less systematic basis than that represented by the GDN. Nevertheless, the GDN represents a valuable study of a number of developments. First, it provides insight into the changing emphases within the World Bank as it seeks ways to implement the principles behind its