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Accountability in Complex Organizations: World Bank Responses to Civil Society

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  • Alnoor Ebrahim

    ()
    (Harvard Business School, General Management Unit)

  • Steve Herz

    ()
    (Lotus Global Advocacy)

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    Abstract

    Civil society actors have been pushing for greater accountability of the World Bank for at least three decades. This paper outlines the range of accountability mechanisms currently in place at the World Bank along four basic levels: (1) staff, (2) project, (3) policy, and (4) board governance. We argue that civil society organizations have been influential in pushing for greater accountability at the project and policy levels, particularly through the establishment and enforcement of social and environmental safeguards and complaint and response mechanisms. But they have been much less successful in changing staff incentives for accountability to affected communities, or in improving board accountability through greater transparency in decision making, more representative vote allocation, or better parliamentary scrutiny. In other words, although civil society efforts have led to some gains in accountability with respect to Bank policies and projects, the deeper structural features of the institution - the incentives staff face and how the institution is governed- remain largely unchanged.

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    File URL: http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/08-027.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Harvard Business School in its series Harvard Business School Working Papers with number 08-027.

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    Length: 37 pages
    Date of creation: Oct 2007
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:08-027

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