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The normativity of numbers: World Bank and IMF conditionality


Anders, Gerhard (2008). The normativity of numbers: World Bank and IMF conditionality. PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review, 31(2):187-202.

Abstract

Good governance reforms aim at transforming African state bureaucracies into efficient, transparent, and accountable institutions. These policies are inserted into the national administrative apparatus by means of conditions attached to the financial support of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Although the conditions exactly match the priorities of these international financial institutions (IFIs), they are not set by them; paradoxically they are (in theory) set by the government requesting a loan. This paradox, the article argues, has to be understood primarily in legal terms. A close reading of a number of loan documents signed by the representatives of the IFIs and the government of Malawi demonstrates how responsibility for good governance reforms is ascribed to the government of Malawi, which "owns" the reforms. The article further shows that the elaborate conditionality attached to loans fuses legal logic and economics in a characteristic "normativity of numbers." By normativity of numbers I refer to the use of economic data, and the introduction of systems of personnel management and expenditure monitoring, as conditions in the loan documents.

Good governance reforms aim at transforming African state bureaucracies into efficient, transparent, and accountable institutions. These policies are inserted into the national administrative apparatus by means of conditions attached to the financial support of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Although the conditions exactly match the priorities of these international financial institutions (IFIs), they are not set by them; paradoxically they are (in theory) set by the government requesting a loan. This paradox, the article argues, has to be understood primarily in legal terms. A close reading of a number of loan documents signed by the representatives of the IFIs and the government of Malawi demonstrates how responsibility for good governance reforms is ascribed to the government of Malawi, which "owns" the reforms. The article further shows that the elaborate conditionality attached to loans fuses legal logic and economics in a characteristic "normativity of numbers." By normativity of numbers I refer to the use of economic data, and the introduction of systems of personnel management and expenditure monitoring, as conditions in the loan documents.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:790 Sports, games & entertainment
390 Customs, etiquette & folklore
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Language:English
Date:November 2008
Deposited On:21 Jan 2009 15:13
Last Modified:03 May 2016 18:29
Publisher:American Anthropological Association
ISSN:1081-6976
Publisher DOI:10.1111/j.1555-2934.2008.00021.x
Related URLs:http://www.anthrosource.net/Articles.aspx?issn=1081-6976&volume=31&issue=2&doubleissueno=0&suppno=0&jstor=False
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-10400

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