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Selectivity at Work: Country Policy and Institutional Assessments at the World Bank


  • Elisa Van Waeyenberge

    () (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, London.)


The World Bank (WB) has been at the forefront of a redefinition of conditionality since the late 1990s, away from finance in return for the promise of policy reform, as was typical under structural adjustment, towards the disbursement of funds conditional on what has already been achieved. Under ‘selectivity’ or performance-based aid, aid allocations are rationed on the basis of deviation from an ideal country model, captured in the country policy and institutional assessment (CPIA). This article seeks to situate the emergence of the selectivity practice, and undertakes a close review of the CPIA, the mechanism at the heart of performance-based aid. This is set against the backdrop of the transition from Washington to post-Washington consensus. The CPIA emerges as a prism through which we can observe crucial features of how the WB’s relationship with poor countries is regulated. This reveals the persistence of a set of imperatives in the WB operational practices, often at variance with the WB rhetoric that has sought to move beyond the neo-liberal bias characteristic of the WB conditionality of the 1980s and early 1990s.En s’éloignant, à la fin des années 1990, des conditionnalités basées sur la réforme des politiques économiques – dont l’ajustement structurel constitue l’exemple type – la Banque mondiale a été à l’avant-garde de la redéfinition des conditionnalités de l’aide. Les déboursements de fonds sont maintenant conditionnés par les résultats obtenus. Dans ce contexte de performance, l’aide est allouée en se référant aux déviations par rapport à un modèle de pays idéal appréhendé dans le country policy and institutional assessment (CPIA). Cet article s’intéresse à l’émergence de ces pratiques, et passe en revue le CPIA qui est au cœur des mécanismes d’allocation de l’aide basée sur la performance, tout en situant le processus dans le cadre de la transition qui s’est opérée du consensus de Washington au consensus post-Washington. L’analyse du CPIA met en lumière les principales caractéristiques de la régulation des relations de la Banque mondiale avec les pays pauvres, et en particulier la persistance de certaines prescriptions qui diffèrent souvent des discours cherchant à dépasser le biais néo-libéral des années 1980 et du début des années 1990.

Suggested Citation

  • Elisa Van Waeyenberge, 2009. "Selectivity at Work: Country Policy and Institutional Assessments at the World Bank," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 21(5), pages 792-810, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:eurjdr:v:21:y:2009:i:5:p:792-810

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    Cited by:

    1. Ben Fine & Elisa Van Waeyenberge, 2013. "A Paradigm Shift that Never Will Be?: Justin Lin’s New Structural Economics," Working Papers 179, Department of Economics, SOAS, University of London, UK.
    2. Jeff Powell, 2012. "International finance," Chapters,in: Handbook of Critical Issues in Finance, chapter 24, pages i-ii Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Elisa Van Waeyenberge, 2015. "Crisis? What crisis? The World Bank and Housing Finance for the Poor," Working Papers 191, Department of Economics, SOAS, University of London, UK.
    4. Ali Burak Güven, 2012. "The IMF, the World Bank, and the Global Economic Crisis: Exploring Paradigm Continuity," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 43(4), pages 869-898, July.

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