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 4: The Origins of the OECD and its Development in the 1960s

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


Twenty countries signed the Convention on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on 14 December 1960, and it came into force on 30 September 1961. As the Convention recognised, the new organisation constituted a reorganisation of the existing OEEC, retaining its legal personality, although all of the decisions, recommendations and resolutions of the OEEC required approval by the OECD Council to be effective (OECD, 2009). The OECD was, thus, not a new organisation, but one that had been extensively reorganised, following a lengthy and difficult deliberation by its members as to its purpose and role (Griffiths, 1997, pp. 235–250). In this chapter we show that the development of the OECD in the 1960s represented a significant, evolutionary adaptation of an existing organisation rather than a new international organisation. The chapter has four major sections. The first outlines the Cold War context in which the OECD was created and evolved, focusing on the competing visions for European integration held by the members of the OEEC. The second examines how the OECD’s role evolved in practice during the 1960s. The third examines the OECD’s developing role from the perspective of three of its key committees, the Committee on Capital Movements and Invisible Transactions (CMIT), the Economic Policy Committee’s Working Party 3 (WP3) and the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), and is followed by the conclusion. THE CONTEXT It is difficult to overstate the importance of the Cold War as a driving force in the years leading up to the creation of...

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