The World Bank as a norm-broker : knowledge, funds and power in governance reforms in Argentina
This study explores the role of the World Bank in the promotion of two governance reforms in Argentina, judicial reform and anti-corruption policies. It argues that when the World Bank is able to draw on both its financial and knowledge power to build and consolidate 'pro-reform networks' with local actors it is more likely to ensure the implementation of governance reforms in its client countries. This argument is built on the premise that whatever the leverage of the World Bank as a financial institution or as a Knowledge Bank, and despite this leverage, it cannot implement programmes by itself in developing countries. A loan and its conditions may be negotiated and approved with government officials, yet the materialisation of projects into policies and institutions is embedded in complex policy process in which the interplay between Bank staff and local actors (beyond government officials) can favour or inhibit policy change. In this context, it is argued that the dominance of a particular actor or paradigm vis-a-vis other contending actors or ideas is not reinforced simply by the coercive position of the lender over the borrower, but rather by its capacity to integrate contesting impulses into broader consensus for policy change. In this capacity, the World Bank is defined as a 'normbroker'. Through a framework that combines critical perspectives in International Political Economy and institutional analysis, this thesis explores different patterns of intervention of World Bank units that acted either as a mere 'conveyor' in the transfer of funds and knowledge or as a 'broker' by integrating the normative agenda grounded in Bank's knowledge with country-based knowledge for the design, negotiation and implementation of governance reforms in Argentina. The theoretical and empirical study of judicial reform and anti-corruption in Argentina contribute to the understanding of reform implementation in which the Bank only succeeds in achieving effective institutionalisation when it engages with local actors, in particular with local experts, in pro-reform networks. By analysing different patterns of involvement of Bank units, this thesis also identifies knowledge/policy dynamics as a critical aspect of policy-making. From this perspective, this thesis departs from traditional studies that focus on one-way coercive leverage of lending institutions and offers a critical approach to the analysis of power, knowledge and policy change in developing countries. It also sheds light on the complexities of international organisations as they expand their roles towards new areas of involvement that fall into the domain of domestic policy-making.