Doing Development Better

The recent selection of Jim Yong Kim to lead the World Bank exposed a deep fissure within the field of development policy, because Kim and his rivals represented two dramatically different approaches. But there are signs that the rift between Kim's brand of bottom-up development and those who favor economy-wide reforms is narrowing.

CAMBRIDGE – Jim Yong Kim’s appointment as World Bank president may have been predictable, given the long-standing tradition that renders the selection an American prerogative. But even the appearance of competition between Kim and the other candidates, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and José Antonio Ocampo, served to expose a deep fissure within the field of development policy, because Kim and his two rivals represented dramatically different approaches.

The vision for which Kim stands is bottom-up. It focuses directly on the poor, and on delivering services – for example, education, health care, and microcredit – to their communities. This tradition’s motto could be, “Development is accomplished one project at a time.”

The other approach, represented by Okonjo-Iweala and Ocampo, takes an economy-wide approach. It emphasizes broad reforms that affect the overall economic environment, and thus focuses on areas such as international trade, finance, macroeconomics, and governance.

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