Giving Aid Effectively: The Politics of Environmental Performance and Selectivity at Multilateral Development Banks, Oxford University Press, 2016
Co-winner of the 2017 Don K. Price award for the best book on science, technology, and environmental politics from the American Political Science Association section on Science, Technology, and Environmental Politics.
International organizations do not always live up to the expectations and mandates of their member countries. One of the best examples of this gap is the environmental performance of the multilateral development banks, which are tasked with allocating and managing approximately half of all development assistance worldwide. In the 1980s and 1990s, the multilateral development banks came under severe criticism for financing projects that caused extensive deforestation, polluted large urban areas, and displaced millions of people. In response to these failures, member countries established or strengthened administrative procedures, citizen complaint mechanisms, project evaluation, and strategic planning processes. These reforms were intended to close the gap between the mandates and performance of the multilateral development banks by shaping the way projects are approved.
This book provides a systematic examination of whether these efforts have succeeded in aligning allocation decisions with performance. It demonstrates that reforms undertaken to increase the amount of information about performance have caused the multilateral development banks to give aid more effectively by promoting selectivity—moving toward projects with a record of success and away from projects with a record of failure for individual countries. This outcome happens when information about performance makes less successful projects harder to approve or more successful projects easier to approve. This argument is substantiated with an extensive analysis of evaluations across four multilateral development banks and two decades, together with in-depth case studies and dozens of interviews. Member countries have a number of mechanisms that allow them to manage international organizations for results.
Reviews: Global Environmental Politics
“Giving Aid Effectively is a carefully researched and lucidly written book examining how project evaluation, strategic planning, citizen complaint mechanisms, and administrative procedures influence the environmental performance of multilateral development banks. I strongly recommend it for scholars of environmental governance and international organizations.” –Aseem Prakash, Walker Family Professor, University of Washington
“This pathbreaking book teaches us how member governments manage the discretion they delegate to international organizations through information and incentives. And it does this while providing a rich and systematic empirical exposition of policies at the multilateral development banks intended to avoid environmental risks, promote clean energy, and abate urban pollution. Either contribution alone would make the book noteworthy; both together make Buntaine’s Giving Aid Effectively a major contribution to scholarship on international organizations.” –Daniel Nielson, Professor, Brigham Young University
“Giving Aid Effectively is a major contribution to the vast literature on the political economy of aid, providing a novel theory of the conditions driving aid selectivity, as well as rich empirical evidence on environmental spending by multilateral development banks. This is a must-read for all who want to understand how aid is given, to whom, and why.” –Catherine Weaver, Associate Professor, University of Texas at Austin