Between Conservation and Innovation: The World Bank and the Modification of the Development Concept, 1946-1981 (Tra Conservazione E Innovazione: La Banca Mondiale E La Modificazione Del Concetto Di Sviluppo, 1946-1981)
Istituzioni e Sviluppo Economico, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 93-116, 2004
26 Pages Posted: 26 Nov 2005
After the Second World War, it was widespread believed that economic growth by itself would ameliorate in a reasonable time the living conditions of all the strata of less developed countries' populations. The World Bank shared this optimistic view, and focused on the financing of single infrastructural projects (e.g. dams, roads, and power stations).
At the end of the 1960s the analysis of many scholars proved the actual situation in many LDCs to be at variance with the prevailing positive preconceptions. The World Bank, headed from 1968 to 1981 by Robert S. McNamara, reorganized its agenda putting in the first place the explicit attack on poverty, and trying to develop new and more includent concepts of what development should be, for example elaborating, together with ILO, the Basic Needs Approach.
At the beginning of the 1980s the neo-liberist wave invested also the World Bank, which retired from the advanced borders of development thinking, and abandoned poverty-oriented policies, favoring instead macroeconomic adjustment policies. The people and competences acquired by the Bank in poverty-biased policies were thus in the most part lost, but fortunately they could survive in other institutions, most notably the UNDP.
Keywords: World Bank, Banca Mondiale, McNamara, Development, Sviluppo
JEL Classification: N20, O19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation