The OECD

The OECD

A Study of Organisational Adaptation

Peter Carroll and Aynsley Kellow

The book reveals, for the first time, the origins, growth and complex role of the OECD as it celebrates its fiftieth anniversary, showing how it has adapted – for the most part successfully – to the changing needs of its members, both large and small.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Peter Carroll and Aynsley Kellow

Subjects: economics and finance, international economics, law - academic, international economic law, trade law, politics and public policy, international politics, international relations

Extract

In attempting to describe the OECD, one is drawn immediately to the fable of blind men describing an elephant. The OECD has a much less well-defined role than other elements of the international economic architecture, such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, or the World Trade Organization, and as a result there are differing perceptions as to what the Organisation is exactly, and where its value lies. There is a joke among those who have had involvement with it that the acronym ‘OECD’ stands for ‘Organisation for Excellent Cocktails and Dining’, encouraged, no doubt, by the attractions of its Paris location. It once might have deserved this slight. Indeed, searching the archives while researching this book, we came across a rather revealing graph in a report on the mainframe computing needs of the Organisation in the 1980s. It recorded the average number of computer terminals connected to the mainframe by time of day, and revealed a marked drop-off between about noon and 3 p.m. The long lunches one might suspect are indicated by this ‘nonobtrusive  measure’ were not confined to the OECD in the 1980s, and austerity in the OECD’s budgetary allocations over the past 15 years especially has meant that it no longer accords with reality. Nevertheless, many have questioned the role and value of the OECD in the contemporary global system, and it has been compelled increasingly to demonstrate that it represents value for money, but many – even those who are familiar with it through involvement...