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The World Bank and the Poverty of Reform Critical Essay

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Updated: Dec 30th, 2019

Introduction

The World Bank is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that there is sustainable development in almost all nations of the world. It has acted as the world’s leading development agency for the past six years.

However, during this time, the bank has received both criticism and praise from the various member states across the globe. There are times when this organization has been able to meet the development agendas of specific countries, whereas there are those countries that complain that the World Bank has been incompetent, fulfilling its promise of poverty eradication.

Most of the states that criticize the activities of the World Bank quickly complain about its hypocrisy. Catherine Weaver, therefore, stipulates the difficulties encountered in trying to resolve hypocrisy in a complex institution such as the World Bank. The difficulties are more intense if resolving the hypocrisy issues within the organization threatens its survival and legitimacy.

Weaver has therefore looked into the cultural and political environment of the World Bank in order to expose any tensions that propagate organized hypocrisy. She also sheds light on the various sources of hypocrisy as well as how hypocrisy trap enables people to understand the behavior, culture, and the various transformation that take place in international organizations.

In order to gather sufficient data on the activities of the World Bank, the methodology that Weaver used was conducting ethnographic research on various operations of the World Bank.

She also made use of published data and leaked information regarding the different scandals associated with the World Bank. This review will, therefore, demonstrate whether hypocrisy should be associated with the various scandals that have become so rampant in the Bank.

Book summary

Today, the World Bank is said to be inefficient in terms of the decisions and the actions that it takes. Leadership scandals are some of the most critical issues that have made the public to develop a negative perception about the services that the World Bank offers to its member states.

Weaver says that the World Bank is the one that is supposed to guide other international financial institutions on how they can practice sustainable development.

However, with the various leadership scandals that have been observed in the bank, experts now doubt whether the World Bank has the capacity to address the various development challenges that are facing the developing nations. The book stipulates that the World Bank should engage in wide-scale reform processes to enable it to reinstate the confidence of its members as well as ensure that its development agendas are realized.

Waiver says stipulates that corruption is detrimental to the growth of any organization. She highlights a situation whereby the World Bank president, Paul Wolfowitz declared that the fight against corruption should be given top priority. He thus openly criticized the administration of the bank and the staff because they used to tolerate corruption while giving loans.

He also went ahead and canceled big projects and loans where he thought corruption was prevalent. He vowed that the World Bank would not entertain corruption under his rule. However, on March 2007, Wolfowitz was involved in a scandal. He had given his romantic partner a hefty salary and promotion. The management and staff of the bank, therefore, accused Wolfowitz for contradicting his own stand on good governance.

This issue was so intense such that many European donors were threatening to withdraw their support from the World Bank. Various developing nations, especially those in Latin America, openly declared that they no longer needed support from the World Bank and the IMF.

Though many people reacted to Wolfowitz transgressions, it became evident that the president of the bank was not the only one who demonstrated hypocrisy. Hypocrisy was prevalent in the entire institution. This is an indication that the bank was incapable of complying with its own policies.

Therefore, there is a lot of difference between what the bank says and what it actually does. For example, the World Bank has always expressed its desire to eradicate poverty levels, especially in the developing nations. However, Weaver illustrates there are those nations with people who live below a dollar in a day.

Accusations of hypocrisy are very common today within the World Bank. Weaver illustrates another scandal whereby the bank was supposed to finance the Bujagali Hydropower project in Uganda. Various NGOs in the region protested the $225 million loan that the bank had approved for the project.

This resulted to an investigation of the World Bank by its own independent panel because it was argued that the project that was to be funded violated international policies for financing projects. The project would not have positive returns on investment and allegations of corruption in financing the project were also prevalent, thereby leading to cancellation of the loan.

Weaver says that charges of Hypocrisy within the Bank have continued to grow over the years. Though the staff at the bank is highly trained, the employees are said to work under political influence.

This state of affairs has, therefore made it difficult for the bank to take on initiatives that would increase its efficiency and accountability. There is also a growing uncertainty on whether the bank can be able to reform fully while under the influence of political pressure.

The book does not, however, accuse the World Bank of hypocrisy, its intention is to give the nature and the different reasons for hypocrisy and how hypocrisy is connected to the political environment of the bank. The form of hypocrisy that is present within the World Bank is, therefore, an indication that it is difficult to find any international organization that fully conducts its activities without getting involved in scandals.

Critical analysis

There are various questions that the book seeks to answer regarding hypocrisy in organizations. For example, Weaver might have been interested in knowing why the bank engages in hypocrisy. In addition, she might have been interested in getting to know the various factors that may influence the bank to engage in activities that would later be regarded as hypocritical.

It is true that even though it is easy to identify hypocrisy in organizations, it is normally a very challenging issue to resolve. This is especially the case when hypocrisy is regarded as a threat to the legitimacy of an organization. It is, therefore, true that the strategic reform process of international organizations is significantly influenced by the nature of hypocrisy within them.

The external environment plays a very important role in providing an organization with the resources necessary to sustain itself in the market. In order for any organization to survive, it is important for it to be responsive to the various environmental demands surrounding it. In this perspective, therefore, an organization cannot reconcile any issues that conflict within the society effectively.

In addition, the political background of the World Bank has a very strong inspiration on the manner in which international organizations operate. This implies that the most influential and wealthy nations would tend to influence the way in which international organizations operate.

On the other hand, most developing nations are not favored by most international organizations. Instead those organizations tend to impose measures that are very restrictive to the developing nations such as charging very high-interest rates in matters relating to loan repayment.

With time, organizations create organizational preferences which deviate from those of the external environment. Organizations adopt different cultures, norms, and values which assist them in adjusting to the world in which they operate. For example, once an organization adopts a bureaucratic culture, it is able to remain stable, thereby enabling it to cope effectively with the various uncertainties present in the world today.

The different conflicts that occur in organizations such as those related to bureaucratic goals and institutional pressures have mostly been associated with hypocrisy. This means that when the internal culture and structure of an organization conflict with the external environment, chances are that organizations can decouple, thereby rendering any efforts aimed at eradicating hypocrisy fruitless.

With the manner in which international organizations relate with their external environment, it is true that they cannot run away from hypocrisy. This is because most of the tasks that these institutions engage in are highly politicized.

This state of affairs, therefore, makes it difficult for these organizations to devise policies that would safeguard them from hypocritical activities. International organizations are also characterized by internal battles such that it is not possible for them to unite all the members of staff and ensure that they remain focused on achieving organization’s objectives.

It has been noted that hypocrisy plays a paradoxical role during the life of an international organization such as the World Bank. For example, there are times when hypocrisy has been observed to shield the World Bank from the inconsistent demands of the political environment. On the other hand, hypocrisy has also been regarded as a liability to the organization.

For example, there are instances when hypocrisy makes different organization to disregard the efforts of the World Bank, especially when senior people within the organization are involved in scandals. Hypocrisy is, therefore, one of the critical issues that the world bank needs to lay emphasis on since undermines its legitimacy, political support, and moral authority.

It is therefore important for the World Bank to apply various strategic reform practices that would enable it to get rid of hypocrisy. However, the bank should take caution because there instances when organizations have tried to engage in reform exercises, but the reform programs also become part of hypocrisy.

In order for reform programs are successful, they should be conducted in a manner that receives positive feedback from the members of the public. However, many international organizations are not committed to implementing the reform processes and this explains why the World Bank has encountered failures while trying to implement reform processes.

For any reform exercise to be successful, it is important for an organization to try out new ideas in its reform process. Most organizations fail because they fail to try out new ideas of solving hypocrisy cases. They should employ a team of experts who operate independently from the organization to help them identify the various factors that limit the organization form achieving its goals.

It should also be exposed to constant audit to ensure that the activities that it undertakes are consistent with international ethics. In addition, any person who participates in any form of scandal should not be allowed to transact business with the organization anymore. This is because if such a person keeps working for the organization, most nations would lose confidence in the operations of the bank and therefore opt out.

Conclusion

From the review, it is true that hypocrisy is a predictable feature for most large international organizations such as the World Bank. In addition, it is true that the World Bank has not been able to achieve the goals that it sets in order to help its member states. The review also illustrates the various pressures that are exerted on the bank and the manner in which America has a significant influence on the operations of the bank.

The bank engages in various complex operations and most of these operations are not open for review by the members of the public. The bank is also said to hold significant monopoly of knowledge related to development.

Though the bank has a history of engaging in reforms, it is still under a lot of criticism because of its inefficiency to cope with the various scandals that prevail in it. Weaver has therefore played a very significant role in explaining why hypocrisy is prevalent in the World Bank.

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1. IvyPanda. "The World Bank and the Poverty of Reform." December 30, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-world-bank-and-the-poverty-of-reform/.


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IvyPanda. "The World Bank and the Poverty of Reform." December 30, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-world-bank-and-the-poverty-of-reform/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "The World Bank and the Poverty of Reform." December 30, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-world-bank-and-the-poverty-of-reform/.

References

IvyPanda. (2019) 'The World Bank and the Poverty of Reform'. 30 December.

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