2nd Edition

Aid and Influence Patronage, Power and Politics

By Stephen Browne Copyright 2022
    216 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    216 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book turns the argument about aid effectiveness on its head. Since development assistance is inherently self-interested, a source of soft power, political manipulation and commercial opportunity, its real effectiveness could arguably be judged by the strength of donor influence and not by development impact. Its subjective nature means that its impact on development is often weak, mainly short-term and confined to limited and specific contexts.

    Aid as influence was prevalent during the Cold War era. The connection is equally strong in this century’s newly bipolar world in which the contest is between western donors led by the United States, and China which is spending hundreds of billions of dollars on infrastructure as a means of influence in the global South. Influence permeates both bilateral and multilateral aid and in parallel with official aid, the rise of global philanthropy has seen it taken up by some of today’s billionaires.

    The response by donors to the growing havoc caused by the three Cs – conflict, climate change and COVID-19 – confirms the main findings of the book, which concludes by outlining what aid without influence would look like. This book draws on the author's 40 years of experience of the aid industry and will be essential reading for development students, practitioners and policy makers alike.

    Preface: the birth of Bangladesh  1. Introduction; Defining aid and its purposes  2. The rationale for aid  3. US aid  4. China aid  5. UK aid  6. Influence and multilateral aid  7. Influence through conditionality  8. Private aid and influence  9. Aiding fragile states  10. The future of aid


    Stephen Browne is co-director of the Future United Nations Development System (FUNDS) project, Senior Fellow of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, Graduate Center, City University of New York, and visiting lecturer at the University of Geneva, Geneva. He worked for the United Nations for more than 30 years, and has written a dozen books on aid, development and the United Nations, including Beyond Aid: From Patronage to Partnership (1999), Sustainable Development Goals and UN Goal-Setting (Routledge, 2017), UN Reform: 25 Years of Challenge and Change (2019), and the Routledge Handbook on the UN in Development (Routledge, 2020).

    "An important book. We are retreating from faith in aid and development as technocratic in allocation, purpose and impact. Browne’s persuasive message in development is political whether the provider is China or a large US Foundation and so are its outcomes."

    Lord Mark Malloch Brown, President, Open Society Foundations

    "A very good account of the history and a powerful critique of the implementation, impact and implications of the recent cuts in UK aid."

    Sir Myles Wickstead, King's College London

    "An important and timely contribution to debates on development cooperation from a genuine insider. The book brings discussions up to date on the evolution of the aid system including new donors like China and private aid. A must-read for students and researchers who care about aid and want to understand better the key contemporary debates."

    Andy Sumner, King’s College London

    "You could not locate a better guide to the foreign assistance bazaar. Having worked and analysed the aid industry for his entire professional and academic career, Browne provides a map of self-interest that motivates donors."

    Thomas G. Weiss, Chicago Council on Global Affairs

    Praise for the first edition

    "This powerful critique of aid by a distinguished practitioner cannot be brushed aside. As Browne argues, doubling aid without radical redesign is unlikely to deliver accelerated development. He offers an attractive recipe for reform."

    Paul Collier, Professor of Economics, Oxford University

    "Stephen Browne provides a radical and original take on a familiar subject, with careful analysis and drawing on a wealth of personal experience …Readable stuff, destined to make those in the aid business think harder."

    Sir Richard Jolly, Institute of Development Studies, Sussex

    "This book is badly needed. It answers the question on everyone’s mind: why has aid often failed to trigger successful development?"

    Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore

    "Stephen Browne takes us back to the early days of development aid, through its evolution into partnership, to the present day … The book reads very well, is snappy and sharp, and is backed up with real life examples."

    Kunda Dixit, Editor-in-Chief, Nepali Times

    "Stephen Browne takes [the aid] story, tests it against many countries and periods and discovers the wide prevalence of aid and influence … This book deserves a wide readership among students of aid relationships and decision-makers."

    Just Faaland, Former Director, Christian Michelsen Institute, Norway

    "The developing countries – particularly those in Africa – deserve a better deal, not as the passive recipients of aid, but as active participants in a fairer global economy. This book contains some important proposals on how a new deal could be struck, which is beneficial to both South and North."

    Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank