Shaping Policy Agendas
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Shaping Policy Agendas

The Micro-Politics of Economic International Organizations

Edited by David Dolowitz, Magdaléna Hadjiisky and Romuald Normand

This fascinating book investigates the strategic importance of the production and dissemination of expertise in the activities of the international organizations (IOs) that have come to symbolize the dominance of the Western political and economic order.
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Chapter 9: Walking the Washington talk? An analysis of the World Bank's policy-practice disjuncture in education

Clara Fontdevila and Antoni Verger


The World Bank has a reputation as a promoter of pro-market educational reforms inspired by the so-called (post-)Washington Consensus (PWC). However, a mechanic association between the World Bank reform agenda and a broad policy paradigm such as the PWC is problematic in that it neglects the diverging interests that are likely to exist within this organization. As a way to analyse organizational divergence, this chapter explores whether and to what extent there is a tension between the public discourse and the lending practices of the World Bank in the educational realm. The chapter also reflects on the possible factors behind the disjunction between the World Bank discourse and practices. We address these questions on the basis of a content analysis of a large corpus of documents, and by focusing on teacher policy – a key component in the World Bank’s education agenda. Our results suggest that the World Bank’s portrait as an advocate of market-oriented reforms is accurate mainly at the discursive level, but that this policy discourse does not consistently translate into its lending practices.

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