Goodbye aid effectiveness, hello development effectiveness?

Development effectiveness:
modernisation theory redux?
Emma Mawdsley
[email protected]
Aid effectiveness/new millennial paradigm
• Emergence of the aid effectiveness agenda: recipient ownership, donor
harmonization, good governance, focus on ‘soft-wiring’ of development
• Post-modern sensibilities, universalism tempered by cultural relativism,
ambivalence about the benefits of industrial modernity
• Mainstreaming of participatory approaches, gender, sustainable
• Development norm centred on poverty reduction
• Commitment to a series of international development targets, most
notably the Millennium Development Goals
• Bilateral norms and institutions dominated by OECD-DAC, albeit in a
‘partnership’ framework
• Relationship between development and ‘security’ rearticulated and
deepened; strong focus on failing/fragile/conflict states
• Geopolitical context: war on terror, growth of the ‘rising powers’, rising
global inequality
‘Development effectiveness’
• Rapid shift of discourse in the run-up to Busan
• Aid effectiveness displaced by ‘development effectiveness’:
economic growth, focus on productivity and capacity, stronger role
for the private sector, wider concept of development financing, a
post-aid world
– CSOs pushing the idea of DE as a rights-based agenda, but a minority
• Theories of development: Asian (generational, self-help, limited
social, civil and political rights), South-South (non-interference,
• End of western domination of global development governance;
emerging regime uncertain, but more complex, voluntary
• Geopolitical context: the global financial crisis, submerging powers,
rapidly shifting and fractured geographies of wealth and power
1950s/1960s modernisation theory
• Deeply rooted in US domestic politics and anxieties (Gilman 2007)
• Intellectual lineages in the Enlightenment (e.g. Comte, Condorcet etc), 19C
economic-political theory (e.g. Hegel, Marx) and early 20C theories of
societal change (e.g. Parsons, Durkheim)
• Holistic meta-narrative – the interplay of psychological, social, political and
economic transformations
• Eurocentric, arrogant, culturally parochial and oblivious: from biological to
cultural account of ‘backwardness’
• Optimistic, trust in (‘western’) science, technology and know-how
• Narrative of national progress
• Broadly, a period of global growth and declining inequality.
• Geopolitical context: Cold War, decolonization, consolidation of a deeply
uneven post-1945 international order; ‘developmental states’: capitalist,
socialist, democratic, authoritarian; import substitution industrialization,
trades unions
• The (eventual) promise of industrial modernity,
material growth, wealth
• Optimistic accounts of the promise of (Southernled)science and technology
– far less ambivalence about industrial modernity
• Limited concern environment or subaltern peoples or
• Hubris? Assertions of national superiority?
• Linear model of stages of (economic – but not cultural)
• Biological and then cultural explanations of ‘backwardness’
replaced by geopolitical narrative: colonialism and neo-imperialism
• Dominated by economic element: notions of psychological, social
and political transformation far less prominent
• Developmental states (liberal, socialist, authoritarian) replaced by
transnational capitalist elites and a more prominent role for private
sector, public-private partnerships
• Context of financial and trade deregulation; massive decline in
trades union power; labour informality, SEZs
• Far wider set of actors, pluralizing international governance
regimes, declining USA/western hard and soft power
• Legitimacy of Enlightenment-based universal human rights
increasingly strongly resisted
• Different positioning of different sectors: resources/primary,
manufacturing, services

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