WDI Refocuses Research Initiatives

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The William Davidson Institute has unveiled refocused research initiatives that better reflect the mission of the organization.

The changes come as the Institute enters its second year under the leadership of President Paul Clyde and as it looks forward to its 25th anniversary in early 2017.

“We spent much of the last year asking how we can more effectively deliver on our mission,” Clyde said. “As a result, we have sharpened the focus of our initiatives to better leverage our experience, our access to the University of Michigan and the skills and talents of our team as we work with companies, institutions and other stakeholders to bring private sector solutions to emerging economies.”

Here is a closer look at the changes.


Each research initiative at WDI is guided by the three components of the Institute’s vision: develop market-based solutions; evaluate and implement solutions through fieldwork; and, share our findings. WDI’s portfolio of initiatives includes:



WDI’s Education Initiative partners with universities and organizations in emerging markets and advances their capacity to deliver world-class management education programs. The initiative takes a two-pronged approach to create and disperse knowledge as part of a global conversation.

First, WDI builds capacity for its partners to deliver superior management training. Some of that capacity building comes in the form of train-the-trainer programs, the deployment of student MBA teams from the Ross School of Business to work on a specific task and a travel-study course at Ross in which graduate students will conduct research in five emerging market countries to incubate new models of management education and implement global best practices with local context.

Second, WDI delivers world-class management education in emerging markets, and is constantly looking for innovative ways – new methodologies, new curriculums and new technologies – to bring to the classroom.


Financial Sector Development

The focus of the new Financial Sector Development Initiative (FSDI) is to identify and implement ways to profitably increase the access to capital in emerging economies. The initiative has two focus areas.

The first looks at how corporate governance and the legal infrastructures in emerging markets are often underdeveloped, making it difficult for firms to access outside financing.  One proposed solution is for firms or startup companies to commit to the securities laws and legal rules of a developed country, relying on the legal structures established there to govern transactions.

The second focus is on the effect of remittances on the accessibility of capital.  Remittances reflect a transfer of funding as well as information.  That information can be used to address moral hazard problems facing lenders.  WDI is exploring ways to use some portion of the half trillion dollars in remittances worldwide to lower the cost of capital to those starting or growing businesses in these developing economies.



WDI’s Healthcare Research Initiative has three streams of work that reach across the healthcare value chain to enable well-functioning markets, strengthen supply chain systems, and improve healthcare service delivery.

One stream is shaping the global discussion, along with donors, governments, NGOs and the private sector, on how to design supply chain systems that address the unique challenges that accompany efforts to get lifesaving medicines and supplies to those who need them in the most efficient way. Smooth operating supply chains, the group believes, are a key driver to better health outcomes.

A second stream focuses on market dynamics. The WDI team applies market understanding in order to inform strategies and policies that will lead to more efficient global markets. These more efficient markets will result in improved access and availability of malaria and TB medicines, vaccines and reproductive health products, among other items.

The third stream focuses on healthcare service delivery. The research team works with and studies health care delivery models in the private sector – any aspect from revenue generation and operations to finance and governance – and takes the best practices and applies them in clinics and hospitals in emerging market countries that are working to become financially self sustaining.


Performance Measurement

The Performance Measurement Initiative (PMI) designs and implements customized assessment solutions to understand the economic, social and environmental performance and outcomes of organizations including businesses operating in emerging economies. The purpose is to inform the organization’s decision-making in order to improve their effectiveness, scalability and sustainability.  The PMI team’s work contributes to a larger body of knowledge and is shared with the broader community with the goal of increasing application of their findings and lessons by practitioners and managers.

Also, the PMI team engages with experts across different disciplines at the University of Michigan who have developed unique tools and frameworks and works with them to apply these in new settings. The team provides training opportunities and organizes webinars on assessment best practices.


Scaling Impact

The Scaling Impact Initiative focuses on accelerating the development of sustainable and scalable enterprises that generate a net positive impact for the base of the pyramid (BoP). To date, hundreds of enterprises developed for BoP markets have been launched with good support from the right organizations. But few have achieved scale.

In order to enhance its understanding of enterprise success and then translate that knowledge into actionable recommendations, strategies, and frameworks, the Scaling Impact initiative partners with enterprise leaders, development professionals, public policy experts, academics and other stakeholders.

Back to Top