Change and Continuity at the World Bank
Show Less

Change and Continuity at the World Bank

Reforming Paradoxes of Economic Development

Peter J. Hammer

This fascinating book examines the World Bank’s capacity for change, illustrating the influence of overlapping political, organizational and epistemic constraints. Through comprehensive historical and economic analysis, Peter J. Hammer illuminates the difficulties faced by recent attempts at reform and demonstrates the ways in which the training and socialization of Bank economists work to define the policy space available for meaningful change.
Buy Book in Print
Show Summary Details
You do not have access to this content

Chapter 7: Application to institutional economics

Reforming Paradoxes of Economic Development

Peter J. Hammer


The social capital debate permitted an examination of epistemic constraints when the Bank was confronted with theories from outside the epistemic domain of economics. The Banks’ experience with institutional economics permits the examination of epistemic constraints when Bank economists take on an intra-disciplinary contender. The rise of “institutions” as a significant contender in international development came from the convergence of many different strands of economic thinking. Contemporary institutional understandings as applied to development are typically built on the foundations of the work of people like Ronald Coase, Douglass North, and Oliver Williamson. In 1994, Williamson was invited to present a paper at the World Bank’s 1994 Conference on Development Economics, exploring the implications of his institution- based theories. Around the same time, institutional economic theories started making their way into Bank publications, such as the 1995 publication Bureaucrats in Business. Finally, institutional economics were central components in the 1997 and 2002 World Development Reports, The State in a Changing World and Building Institutions for Markets. What do these developments tell us about the World Bank and its capacity for reform? For those who would like to see the “institutional turn” lead to substantial changes in the Bank’s fundamental approach to economic development, the Bank’s early work is disappointing. Howard Stein persuasively illustrates how documents such as Bureaucrats in Business and even the 1997 WRD often flatten institutional concepts, applying them in an unduly narrow and sometimes misguided manner. For example, Williamson’s Bank paper outlines the stock approach of “comparative institutional analysis,”

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information

or login to access all content.