Volume 5: Helping People Help Themselves: From the World Bank to an Alternative Philosophy of Development Assistance

By David Ellerman
Foreword by Albert O. Hirschman

Table of Contents

This volume is part of the series
Evolving Values for a Capitalist World

Read a Note from the Series Editor, Neva Goodwin

Helping People Help Themselves grew out of David Ellerman’s ten years at the World Bank—and particularly out of his three years as advisor and speechwriter for Joseph Stiglitz during Stiglitz’s tumultuous term as the Bank’s Chief Economist. The book provides a structural critique of the World Bank’s approach to development assistance—but the main purpose is to lay the intellectual foundations for an alternative approach. The book takes a broad interdisciplinary approach drawing from educational theory, management theory, community organizing, psychology, and philosophy. While many thinkers are discussed, there is a focus on eight individuals who have wrestled in different fields with the fundamental conundrum of trying to give external help that promotes (rather than thwarts) self-help. Those individuals are: Albert Hirschman, John Dewey, Paulo Freire, E. F. Schumacher, Douglas McGregor, Carl Rogers, Saul Alinsky, and Søren Kierkegaard.

“The book uses the interdisciplinary methodology of pointing to similar ideas expressed by a variety of other authors in different fields: management theory by Douglas McGregor, psychotherapy
by Carl Rogers, community organizing by Saul Alinksy, community education by Paulo Freire, spiritual counseling by Soren Kierkegaard, and economic development by E. F.
Schumacher and myself. In the end, the book speaks of a series of ways in which development
agencies can experience blocks to learning and singles out the “long confrontation between man and a situation,” which, according to Camus, can be so fruitful for the achievement of
genuine progress in problem.”
—Albert O. Hirschman, Institute for Advance Study, from the Foreword
Click here to read the rest of the Forward by Albert O. Hirschman.

“A towering achievement… a coherent alternative “way of seeing” the relationship between aid organizations based in rich countries and aid recipients based in poorer ones, and some practical suggestions on how to reengage the aid agencies more as “helpers” than as “doers”. Along the way it fairly sizzles with insider insights into the workings of the World Bank.”
—Robert Hunter Wade, Development Studies Institute, London School of Economics

“Ellerman provides a compelling humanist understanding of how economic development aid can succeed, if only people and nations are enabled to help themselves.”
—William Greider author, The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy

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