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The World Bank as an International Financial Institution


  • Shams, Rasul


The World Bank is a prestigious and large international financial institution. Since its foundation it has widened the scope and the size of its activities. One interpretation of what the World Bank is doing is the provision of public goods. If we take this interpretation seriously the comprehensiveness of the Bank's activity suggests that the Bank is assuming more and more the functions of a world government in the making. An alternative interpretation would look at the World Bank as a huge bureaucratic organization, acting on its own behalf. This interpretation can not be endorsed fully by the available information, but only in the sense of bureau-shaping. The Bank itself is proud of being a knowledge bank. But its actual activity is the popularization of ideas on development and not the application of research outcomes in its day-to-day operations. The most appropriate interpretation of the activity of the World Bank is that its changing scope and size is shaped heavily by pressure from different interest groups.

Suggested Citation

  • Shams, Rasul, 2004. "The World Bank as an International Financial Institution," HWWA Discussion Papers 292, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWA).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:hwwadp:26380

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dees, Stephane, 1998. "Foreign Direct Investment in China: Determinants and Effects," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, vol. 31(2-3), pages 175-194.
    2. Samuel Fankhauser & Lucia Lavric, 2003. "The investment climate for climate investment: Joint Implementation in transition countries," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(4), pages 417-434, December.
    3. Zhang, Zhong Xiang, 2001. "Why has the energy intensity fallen in China's industrial sector in the 1990s?: the relative importance of structural change and intensity change," CDS Research Reports 200111, University of Groningen, Centre for Development Studies (CDS).
    4. G. C. van Kooten, 2004. "Climate Change Economics," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 3424.
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    More about this item


    international lending; economic development; public goods; interest groups;

    JEL classification:

    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • F33 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions


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