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Governing Failure
Provisional Expertise and the Transformation of Global Development Finance

CAD$33.95 (C)

  • Date Published: November 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107474932

CAD$ 33.95 (C)

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About the Authors
  • Jacqueline Best argues that the 1990s changes in IMF, World Bank and donor policies, towards what some have called the 'Post-Washington Consensus,' were driven by an erosion of expert authority and an increasing preoccupation with policy failure. Failures such as the Asian financial crisis and the decades of despair in sub-Saharan Africa led these institutions to develop governance strategies designed to avoid failure: fostering country ownership, developing global standards, managing risk and vulnerability and measuring results. In contrast to the structural adjustment era when policymakers were confident in their solutions, this is an era of provisional governance, in which key actors are aware of the possibility of failure even as they seek to inoculate themselves against it. Best considers the implications of this shift, asking if it is a positive change and whether it is sustainable. This title is available as Open Access on Cambridge Books Online and via Knowledge Unlatched.

    • Provides new insights into the latest institutional and policy developments in international development finance
    • An original focus on the way in which past policy failures affect institutions
    • Brings in theoretical insights from international political economy, development studies and sociology
    • This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Books Online and via Knowledge Unlatched
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Supremely over-confident in the 1980s and 1990s, international financial institutions have now recognized some of the limits of their capacity to effect change in an uncertain world. But, if structural adjustment has failed, what comes afterwards? In a brilliant analysis, Jacqueline Best shows us how the IFIs have invented a new form of "provisional governance": failure is now anticipated, the authority of experts is known to be fragile, and government has become something of an experiment."
    Andrew Barry, University College London

    "Governing Failure is a fascinating exploration of the dynamics of expertise, authority, and power in international development institutions and the paradoxes that result. Expertise generates authority, which is undermined by perceived failure resulting from contingency. Governance therefore becomes more provisional, but if it is cautious rather than experimental it ultimately jeopardizes the authority upon which these institutions rely."
    Robert O. Keohane, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

    "Drawing on a highly creative and wide-ranging engagement with theory and extensive empirical research, this wonderful new book by Jacqueline Best makes a major contribution to our understanding of how the IMF and World Bank have changed since the structural adjustment era and to theorizing global governance more generally."
    Tony Porter, McMaster University, Canada

    "Best offers a much needed theoretical account of how and why there has been a move to ‘govern failure’ within international organizations. Along the way, Best gives us a powerful framework for understanding the dynamics of global governance in general, and the role of international organizations in particular."
    Ole Jacob Sending, Director of Research, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI)

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107474932
    • length: 286 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.39kg
    • contains: 2 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Understanding How Global Governance Works:
    1. Introduction
    2. A meso-level analysis
    Part II. History:
    3. What came before
    4. Transformations
    Part III. New Governance Strategies:
    5. Fostering ownership
    6. Developing global standards
    7. Managing risk and vulnerability
    8. Measuring results
    Part IV. Conclusion:
    9. The politics of failure and the future of provisional governance.

  • Author

    Jacqueline Best, University of Ottawa
    Jacqueline Best is an Associate Professor in the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa. Her work focuses on the social, cultural and political underpinnings of the global economic system, which she studies by examining how organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank work to govern the global economy.

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