The World Bank’s leap of faith

Jim Yong Kim is the new World Bank president. A physician and anthropologist, for a change. I welcome the change ONLY IF he, being an American, is not controlled by the old bureaucracy in Washington.

Peter Drucker in Innovation and Entrepreneurship avers that the outsider may be the right person to effect innovation within the organization because the outsider has no prior knowledge of and is not constrained by the old ways that persist but don’t work in the organization.

Over the years, the World Bank, for all its expert market-based solutions, has not significantly brought down global poverty figures. Perhaps it has tired of this ineffectiveness and jumped – the leap of faith – into the bandwagon of change with nations, societies, and organizations undergoing the same transformation. In this case, there is indeed positive things to look forward to.

5 thoughts on “The World Bank’s leap of faith

    1. thanks for the question. maybe he doesn’t, the whole inside story. but I’m looking at this as advantage on his part; many creative minds who enter the organizational space learn the hard way that if they are to survive and grow in the organization they must think within the box. Dr. Jim Yong Kim would need to sustain a certain level of creativity throughout, possible only if he is not hindered by offensive rules or when he doesn’t know the whole (sob) story. Creativity and innovation, to thrive and produce, need a certain freedom to be. Providing that environment is the challenge to World Bank. It could be that the man – Mr. Kim – is separate from the organization – World Bank – hence the challenge to Mr. Kim as its leader is how to align the values of the two.

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      1. Thanks for the reply.

        But that change can be done only if you assume the Bank is a simple ship where the President’s or captain’s will/orders are followed easily. The WBG is not of such nature. There is a embdedded culture/fixed mindset that even if change is to occur, it will be path dependant. Catherine Weaver’s book, Hypocrisy Trap details such change during the Wolfensohn/Wolfowitz era.

        Specifically on Kim, my question is really what is he going to change?

        During the “election”, he made no specific detail of what he would do; he never spoke at the CGD/Washington Post event, unlike Ngozi and Jose Ocampo. Instead, all he did was ride on the US support, assuming he would get the post and thus degrading the election. Even if he would win, what stopped him from saying what he would do? Even the shady Wolfowitz noted that his drive would be anti-corruption. All outsiders can do is to assume largely that Kim will target development from a health perspective (or would he?) Even so, as mentioned above, the Bank can’t be changed easily or fully into a bottom-up type development institution. It’s Article of Agreements and each of the five arms (again my question was also asking does he even know what are the roles of the five Bank arms) are not directly meant to work on health or human development targets. Yes, the WBG does work on those (it’s on the forefront of the MDGs) but is bottom up the way to go? Kim has said nothing about this.

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      2. i agree that the absence of an articulated platform can be frustrating, especially from one who’s leading a global institution but i think it’s because Mr Kim is also an anthropologist (besides being a medical practitioner) and an anthropologist understands that most times one falls silent in the face of very complex global issues; silence not because one doesn’t know but because one has penetrated the core and one-liners cannot describe its complexity. let’s see.

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      3. That is definitely no excuse at all for Kim’s silence. All you are doing is leaping in his non-economic credentials and failing to prove that that is the route he is going to take. What he did by being silent was to affirm that there was NO democratic process in the selection at all, that he was riding the waves of US influence to get in.

        Even if we take you stance that he will implement human development in the Bank (which is not wrong), he has failed already by staying silent. How do you implement such a move in the IFC and MIGA for example (does he know the functions of these two arms?) Implementing his “silent” agenda is not the only matter. What about internal reform? The threat of IDA failing to gain enough replenishments from major donors (Does he even know this?)

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