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 what has become of the humanitarian goals of the World Bank.
The Bank, despite its many critics, is considered by most to be “the world’s
foremost, most prestigious official development institution” (Faith 112). Many
seeking a future in development, first attempt to enter the World Bank. Most of
the Bank’s new recruits are Young Professionals (YP). This is an extremely
competitive program which thousands apply to, of which only 35 a year get in.
Although Young Professionals come from a variety of countries, this does not
necessarily reflect various cultural perspectives. Most of the YP are educated
in the North, and a large