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The Bretton Woods Institutions and the Environment: Organizational Learning within the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Listed author(s):
  • Alexandra Lindenthal


    (Collaborative Research Center 597, Transformations of the State, Bremen University, P.O. Box 330440, Bremen 28334, Germany)

  • Martin Koch


    (Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld University, P.O. Box 100131, Bielefeld 33501, Germany)

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    Due to a growing public awareness, in the last 40 years environmental impacts of development projects financed and supported by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have come into view. Since then, the member states have pressured both organizations to implement environmental concerns. We analyze the reactions of the World Bank and the IMF’s bureaucracies towards their principals’ demands. To reveal if, and to what extent, the observed reactions of both bureaucracies towards environmental integration can be assessed as organizational learning, we develop in a first step a heuristic model that allows for a distinction between different levels of learning (compliant and non-compliant, single-loop and double-loop). In a second step we describe the efforts of the bureaucracies of the World Bank (from the 1970s until today) and the IMF (from the 1990s until today) to integrate environmental protection into their activities. Due to our interest in the quality of the organizational changes, we finally analyze if and to what extent the bureaucracies’ reactions to the new external demand qualify as organizational learning. Furthermore, we discuss which factors helped or hindered organizational learning.

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    Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Administrative Sciences.

    Volume (Year): 3 (2013)
    Issue (Month): 4 (October)
    Pages: 1-36

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    Handle: RePEc:gam:jadmsc:v:3:y:2013:i:4:p:166-201:d:29303
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    1. Michael Keen & Benjamin Jones, 2009. "Climate Policy and the Recovery," IMF Staff Position Notes 2009/28, International Monetary Fund.
    2. Bernhard Ebbinghaus, 2009. "Can Path Dependence Explain Institutional Change? Two Approaches Applied to Welfare State Reform," Chapters,in: The Evolution of Path Dependence, chapter 8 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Nielson, Daniel L. & Tierney, Michael J., 2003. "Delegation to International Organizations: Agency Theory and World Bank Environmental Reform," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(02), pages 241-276, March.
    4. Gutner, Tamar, 2005. "World Bank Environmental Reform: Revisiting Lessons from Agency Theory," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(03), pages 773-783, July.
    5. Ness, Gayl D. & Brechin, Steven R., 1988. "Bridging the gap: international organizations as organizations," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(02), pages 245-273, March.
    6. Tamar Gutner, 2005. "Explaining the Gaps between Mandate and Performance: Agency Theory and World Bank Environmental Reform," Global Environmental Politics, MIT Press, vol. 5(2), pages 10-37, 05.
    7. Ascher, William, 1983. "New development approaches and the adaptability of international agencies: the case of the World Bank," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 37(03), pages 415-439, June.
    8. Nils C. Bandelow, 2008. "Government Learning in German and British European Policies," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46, pages 743-764, 09.
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