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Title: Between democracy and technocracy : international development organization and the challenge of institutional change
Author: Gulrajani, N.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2005
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In the 1990s, a legitimacy crisis afflicted international organizations embedded in the field of development. Factors underlying this crisis included falling foreign aid flows, the rise of competitors in the form of non-governmental organizations and the private sector, widespread and highly visible failures to achieve promised results, the diversion of aid funds into the treasuries of corrupt governments, and the growth of a vocal and virulent anti-globalization movement, to name but a few. In response to this crisis, this period saw the emergence of a reconceived poverty alleviation agenda that emphasized a multi-dimensional concept of poverty to be achieved through partnership-oriented and participative aid processes. International organizations increasingly sought to institutionalize and champion this new institution in order to improve their legitimacy and survival prospects. This thesis explores the processes by which executive sponsored initiatives sought to institutionalize the new poverty alleviation institution inside the World Bank and World Health Organization. Three points of inquiry build on one other to present a comparative analysis of institutionalization process within these international development organizations. The first examines the institutional logics, that is symbolic constructions and material practices, which have governed the field of development since the post-war period. By teasing out the interactions between the history and practices of development, two fundamental logics—technocracy and politics—are shown to interlace and constitute our knowledge of development at any given time. The second point of inquiry concerns the nature of the formal and informal organizational processes that introduced the poverty paradigm into development organizations. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in four country offices, the consequences of institutionalization for experienced institutional tensions, intra-organizational politics and organizational power are all examined and related to wider institutional dynamics. Using interpretive qualitative methods, the experience of institutionalization is compared across both the Bank and the WHO situated in two national contexts and a comparative assessment of organizational agency attempted. Finally, the thesis asks what is achieved by the institutionalization of a new poverty alleviation agenda. Institutionalization through managerial practices that are normatively linked to the political logic of development is critically examined and the implications for organizational survival and political logics discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available