Agents of influence: Country directors at the world bank

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Title Agents of influence: Country directors at the world bank
Author Weller, Patrick Moray; Xu, Yi-chong
Journal Name Public Administration
Year Published 2010
Place of publication United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Abstract This article seeks to understand the operations of the World Bank by examining one particular group of players – the country directors (CDs). It argues that the analysis of international organizations (IOs), by focusing on the behaviour of their principals (states), as principal-agent analysts do, or on organizational cultures, as the constructivist approach does, is inadequate in explaining the operation and behaviour of IOs, which are themselves complex organizations with chains of cascading relationships. Country directors at the World Bank occupy a pivotal position in this chain: with executive directors and the president as their nominal and ultimate principals, vice presidents as their direct principals and client countries as informal principals. They are themselves principals to their country team and to some sector people. For both conceptual and empirical reasons, therefore, CDs deserve separate analysis. To explain the way these relationships shape the work CDs do and how they do it, this article examines three basic functions of country directors at the Bank: (1) representing the Bank to the client countries; (2) representing the country to the Bank; and (3) managing the country offices and country programmes. The empirical section of this article is based on interviews with over 80 officials in both Washington and field offices. We show that an understanding of the Bank and its operations requires an examination of its internal processes and its staff.
Peer Reviewed Yes
Published Yes
Alternative URI
Volume 88
Issue Number 1
Page from 211
Page to 231
ISSN 0033-3298
Date Accessioned 2011-01-14
Language en_AU
Research Centre Centre for Governance and Public Policy
Faculty Griffith Business School
Subject Policy and Administration
Publication Type Journal Articles (Refereed Article)
Publication Type Code c1

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