Reforming the World Bank

CREATIVE DESTRUCTION

The World Bank entered a new era when Paul Wolfowitz took over as its president on June 1, 2005. Wolfowitz's predecessor, James Wolfensohn, had served in the role for ten years, with a mission of transformation and a management style that placed great emphasis on his personal leadership. By the time he left the post, Wolfensohn had succeeded in giving the bank "a human face" and "a dream of a world without poverty," and in altering the institution's priorities to emphasize building institutions, improving governance, enhancing the voice and participation of the poor, strengthening the rule of law, and stamping out corruption. When he replaced Wolfensohn, Wolfowitz was quick to emphasize that he embraced the bank's antipoverty mission. At the same time, he has let it be known that he will forgo a big-bang presidency.

The annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank take place in the fall, and, in a tradition begun by Robert McNamara in Nairobi in 1973, the president of the bank is expected to use that occasion to share his vision for the institution and unveil new initiatives. Wolfowitz's maiden speech, delivered at the annual meeting in Washington, D.C., in September 2005, was crafted to present himself as a president who will focus on the management of the institution, in cooperation with its partners, and look for leadership within countries themselves, with an emphasis on results and accountability.

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