Doing Business in politics – how benchmarking changes global governance: Understanding the techniques behind the creation, distribution, and use of the Doing Business indicators that allow the World Bank to `govern at a distance´.

Jesper Moll Niemann

Student thesis: Master thesis


This paper analyses the effects of the benchmarking process in global governance power relations. A case study on the Doing Business indicators, regulatory benchmarks produced by a team of World Bank Group employees, reveals how the process of creating, distributing, and using the indicators has effects on regulation. In the benchmarking process, the team involved in the creation of the Doing Business indicators are able to define the domain of regulation that is benchmarked, by determining the regulatory variables that each indicator measures. The indicators, as performance measures of a defined regulatory domain, are then used to order countries based on their score, in effect creating a ranking. By associating the scores with economic outcomes, these rankings have a performative effect, and inspire and inform reforms across numerous countries by making regulatory actors focus on the economic outcomes of regulation. Since the World Bank is in control of the Doing Business indicators, the World Bank also has the power to govern at a distance through this benchmarking process. Finally, by measuring the quality of regulation through quantification, the benchmarking process transforms the political issue of regulation into a technical issue of numbers, methodology and ‘best practice’.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2013
Number of pages103