In This Article International Economic Organizations (IMF and World Bank)

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Journals
  • Online Resources
  • Theoretical Accounts of Organizational Behavior
  • Legitimacy, Governance, and Accountability
  • Relationship with the External World
  • Financial Globalization
  • Criticisms

International Relations International Economic Organizations (IMF and World Bank)
by
Manuela Moschella
  • LAST REVIEWED: 19 September 2014
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 June 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0100

Introduction

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IRBD or World Bank hereafter) are among the most well-known and criticized international organizations primarily because of the influence they exert over member countries’ economic choices. Both organizations were created at the end of World War II and have played a critical role in the evolution of the global economic and financial system. The study of the IMF and the World Bank is therefore inextricably linked to the study of the Bretton Woods regime and its evolution, including the process of financial globalization. The two organizations have also been at the center of the debate on the reform of the international financial architecture and have been an often-used laboratory for scholars working in international relations (IR) and international political economy (IPE).

General Overviews

Several works have been published that cover the creation and the activities of the IMF and the World Bank in general fashion. Elson 2011 provides one of the most recent and comprehensive accounts on the creation and the evolution of global financial governance, Eichengreen 2008 provides one of the richest historical accounts of the Bretton Woods era, and Woods 2006 offers an introductory text to the activities of the two organizations, whereas Marshall 2008 focuses on those of the World Bank. Vines and Gilbert 2004 and Gilbert and Vines 2000 offer two broad and advanced collections of essays on the Bretton Woods twins.

  • Eichengreen, Barry. Globalizing Capital: A History of the International Monetary System. 2d ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008.

    E-mail Citation »

    This classic and interesting book offers an understanding of the two global economic institutions against the backdrop of the evolution of the international monetary system. In particular, the analysis covers the period from the gold standard to today’s world of fluctuating prices. Founded on sound economic theory and rich historical details, the book is addressed not only to economists, but also to historians and political scientists.

  • Elson, Anthony. Governing Global Finance: The Evolution and Reform of the International Financial Architecture. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

    E-mail Citation »

    The book provides a detailed but accessible account of the creation and evolution of the international financial architecture (IFA), explaining the functions of the IMF and the World Bank against the backdrop of the changes in the global economy since the early 20th century until the present. Highly recommended introductory text.

  • Gilbert, Christopher L., and David Vines, eds. The World Bank: Structure and Policies. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511560002E-mail Citation »

    The book provides an advanced analysis of the World Bank. Specifically, the essays collected in this book critically examine several, main aspects of the World Bank’s institutional structure and activities. Significant space is devoted to the issue of aid effectiveness. Quantitative analysis and case studies appropriate for graduate students and research analysts on the World Bank.

  • Marshall, Katherine. The World Bank: From Reconstruction to Development to Equity. New York: Routledge, 2008.

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    This book provides an accessible and comprehensive overview of the World Bank’s history, development, structure, and activities. Especially suited to undergraduates and beginning graduate students.

  • Vines, David, and Christopher L. Gilbert, eds. The IMF and Its Critics: Reform of Global Financial Architecture. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511493362E-mail Citation »

    It provides an advanced analysis of the IMF. Specifically, the essays collected in this book critically examine several, main aspects of the IMF’s governance and activities, including the IMF lending programs. Quantitative analysis and case studies appropriate for graduate students and research analysts on the IMF.

  • Woods, Ngaire. The Globalizers: The IMF, the World Bank, and Their Borrowers. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2006.

    E-mail Citation »

    The book offers a general, basic introduction to the history, governance, and activities of the two organizations. These themes are illustrated with case studies on the relationship between the two institutions and its member countries.

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