The World Bank

Topics: World Bank, Structural adjustment, Bureaucracy Pages: 8 (3101 words) Published: October 8, 1999
The World Bank

Bureaucracy is one of the pillars of modern western society. Although this statement is debatable from many aspects, most would agree that, at the very least, our lives are greatly affected by bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is the 'pure form of rational organization' (Newson, Jan 11). Not only is it a method for achieving goals efficiently and effectively, but it is acclaimed as the most able strategy to meet objectives. The World Bank is a classic example of a bureaucratic organization. It embodies all the characteristics necessary to qualify; from its complicated hierarchy and impersonal relations, to the specialization and career orientation of its employees. However, not everyone agrees on the competency of the bureaucratic organizational system. George and Sabelli in their book Faith and Credit claim that is the very structure of the World Bank which causes its failures, as well as explaining its continued existence despite these mistakes. Using Faith and Credit, with a focus on chapter six, it will be shown that it is the bureaucratic methods themselves which twist the World Bank's goals, and that these methods undermine the tasks which the Bank has set for itself.

The World Bank is one of the world's most powerful agencies. Although it characterizes itself as a purely economic institution -- which controls the lending of billions of dollars -- in practice its influence, wealth, and policies all result in having immense political power (Faith 1). Although originally created to serve as an institution to help rebuild the world (i.e. Europe) after World War II, its task has since shifted to development work and poverty reduction. Through its immense control of wealth, and its international reputation, the Bank has managed to lend billions to 'under-developed' nations. The loans take many forms, including financing of mega-projects and structural adjustment. Beginning in the 1980's vast amounts of criticism on the Bank's policies began to appear, finding faults in much of its work. Many of its projects have been declared more harmful than helpful, often worse names have been used. The Bank has managed to make enemies in many activist circles; including environmentalists, feminists and even the people whose aim is to please: poverty workers (Faith 6). Nevertheless the Bank still remains an eminent institution. It is well respected by many intellectuals, consulted by governments and continues to grown in wealth and power.

The very people working for the World Bank are cream of the crop. It is a relatively small organization, and immensely respected, which allows it to chose its staff from the best in the world. However, the Bank's rules and traditions do not allow these top notch women and men to work at maximum efficiency. It is an organization trapped in its own structure, stifling the staff which works for it. Lower level employees are silenced by a hierarchy which provides few methods for the expressing of opinions, and in fact discourages dissent. This commitment to orthodoxy has caused the Bank to fall behind on its development strategies in comparison to the rest of the world. Nevertheless it is not an organization composed of stupid people and is aware -- of at least some -- of its faults. Although attempts have been made to restructure the Bank, they have only ended up further focusing the Bank on its orthodox path. Quantity, instead of quality, has become its purpose and is causing further havoc in the countries to which it loans (part II countries). Instead of dealing with these problems, it fools itself and others into believing in a positive end result; ignoring the rule 'the ends do not justify the means' not to mention the fact that many do not foresee a positive end. To deal with the image problem created by its own disasters, the World Bank has attempted to make itself appear more effective. Yet it seems to have forgotten that what is important is not the image but the results. This is...

Bibliography: George, Susan and Sabelli, Fabrizio. Faith and Credit: The World Banks Secular
Empire. Penguin, Toronto: 1994.
Newson, Janice. In class lectures. January 18th and 25th, 1996.
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