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Thinking inside the box: the World Bank, strategic interest and advocacy coalitions in the water sector

Thinking inside the box: the World Bank, strategic interest and advocacy coalitions in the water sector

Lobina, Emanuele and Hall, David (2010) Thinking inside the box: the World Bank, strategic interest and advocacy coalitions in the water sector. In: Economic Governance Institutions, Economic Outcomes and the Crisis: An International Conference, 4 Jun 2010, University of Greenwich, London UK. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

The World Bank exerts considerable influence on the water policies of developing countries through its lending conditionalities and through policy advice. The World Bank aspires to be a “Learning Organisation”, the “Knowledge Bank”. It provides policy advice through partnerships with civil society and the private sector, such as the influential World Water Forum. Based on empirical evidence drawn from the PSIRU global database on public service reform, this paper looks at the position of the World Bank on the relative merits of private and public water operations from The Hague World Water Forum in 2000 to the Istanbul World Water Forum in 2009. We find that throughout the last 10 years the World Bank has been dogmatically devoted to the development of market opportunities for private companies. This approach has been maintained despite the increasing emergence of evidence on two crucial aspects: a) the problems with private sector participation; and b) the developmental potential offered by public sector reform under full public ownership and full public management. We explain bounded policy and organisational learning as a result of the interests of actors participating in the advocacy coalitions set up by the World Bank around the World Water Forum, and the normative values informing their preference on the roles of the public and private sectors. More precisely, the Bank’s policy and organisational learning process is influenced by the vested interests of water multinationals and their lobby groups. Furthermore, World Bank thinking and action is informed by neoliberal ideology which does not recognise any substantial role in development for non-market instruments (unless these are functional to supporting market development). The combination of these two factors seriously undermines prospects for achieving what is the ultimate, intended remit of the Bank: promoting social and economic development on the ground.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Additional Information: [1] This paper was presented at the first Business School, Economic Governance Research Group (EGRG) Conference "Economic Governance Institutions, Economic Outcomes and the Crisis: An International Conference" held at the University of Greenwich on 4th June 2010
Uncontrolled Keywords: Policy and organisational learning, bounded rationality, World Bank, advocacy coalitions, water services, private sector participation
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Business > Department of International Business & Economics
Faculty of Business > Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU)
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:13
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/5248

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