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The cartel of good intentions: The problem of bureaucracy in foreign aid

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  • William Easterly

Abstract

Well-meaning national and international bureaucracies dispense foreign aid under conditions in which bureaucracy fails. The environment that created aid bureaucracies led those organizations to (a) define their output as money disbursed rather than service delivered, (b) produce many low-return observable outputs (glossy reports and "frameworks") and few high-return less observable activities like ex - post evaluation, (c) engage in obfuscation, spin control, and amnesia (always describing aid efforts as "new and improved") exhibiting little learning from the past, (d) put enormous demands on scarce administrative skills in poor countries. To change this unhappy equilibrium, policymakers in rich and poor countries should experiment with decentralized markets, matching those who want to help the poor with the poor themselves freely expressing their needs and aspirations.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Economic Policy Reform.

Volume (Year): 5 (2002)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 223-250

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Handle: RePEc:taf:jpolrf:v:5:y:2002:i:4:p:223-250

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Related research

Keywords: Foreign Aid; Economic Development; Bureaucracy;

References

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  1. Tirole, Jean, 1994. "The Internal Organization of Government," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(1), pages 1-29, January.
  2. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1998. "The Quality of Goverment," NBER Working Papers 6727, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Canice Prendergast, 2001. "Selection and Oversight in the Public Sector, With the Los Angeles Police Department as an Example," NBER Working Papers 8664, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Djankov, Simeon & McLeish, Caralee & Nenova, Tatiana & Shleifer, Andrei, 2001. "Who owns the media?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2620, The World Bank.
  5. Ravallion, Martin & Wodon, Quentin, 2000. "Does Child Labour Displace Schooling? Evidence on Behavioural Responses to an Enrollment Subsidy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(462), pages C158-75, March.
  6. William Easterly, 2002. "The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262550423, December.
  7. Pritchett, Lant & Filmer, Deon, 1999. "What education production functions really show: a positive theory of education expenditures," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 223-239, April.
  8. Filmer, Deon & Hammer, Jeffrey & Pritchett, Lant, 1998. "Health policy in poor countries : weak links in the chain," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1874, The World Bank.
  9. Pritchett, Lant & Woolcock, Michael, 2004. "Solutions When the Solution is the Problem: Arraying the Disarray in Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 191-212, February.
  10. William Easterly, 2002. "What did Structural Adjustment Adjust? The Association of Policies and Growth with Repeated IMF and World Bank Adjustment Loans," Working Papers 11, Center for Global Development.
  11. Nancy Birdsall & John Williamson, 2002. "Delivering on Debt Relief: From IMF Gold to a New Aid Architecture," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 337.
  12. Easterly, William, 1999. "The ghost of financing gap: testing the growth model used in the international financial institutions," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 423-438, December.
  13. Daniel Kaufmann & Massimo Mastruzzi & Diego Zavaleta, 2003. "Sustained Macroeconomic Reforms, Tepid Growth: A Governance Puzzle in Bolivia?," Development and Comp Systems 0308003, EconWPA.
  14. Devesh Kapur, 2002. "Do as I Say Not as I Do: A Critique of G-7 Proposals on Reforming the MDBs," Working Papers 16, Center for Global Development.
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