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Japan, the World Bank, and the Art of Paradigm Maintenance: The East Asian Miracle in Political Perspective
To what extent is the World Bank an actor, an ‘autonomous variable’ in the international system?  Or to what extent are its objectives and approaches the mere manifestations of competition and compromise among its member states? Several writers have argued that the Bank has a relatively large amount of autonomy—from the state interests of its overseers, and that its staff have some autonomy from the senior management. They have traced this autonomy to variables such as ‘lack of clarity of the priorities of organizational objectives’, ‘the difficulty and complexity of accomplishing the organization’s mandate’, ‘bureaucratized structure’ and ‘professionalism of staff’.  But there is something strangely bloodless about this approach. It manages to discuss autonomy without conveying anything of the political and economic substance of the field of forces in which the Bank operates. By focusing only on morphological variables like ‘professionalism’ and the ‘complexity of accomplishing the organization’s mandate’, it misses other variables like ‘correspondence of organizational actions with the interests of the us state’. If the Bank is propelled by its budgetary, staffing and incentive structures to act in line with those interests, the us state need not intervene in ways that would provide evidence of ‘lack of autonomy’; yet the Bank’s autonomy is clearly questionable.
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