The Managerial Elite of Development Banks

São Paulo, Brazil. Photo by Thuanny Gantuss via Unsplash.

Recent literature has emerged highlighting the importance of development banks for capitalist diversity in rich and developing countries alike. This literature merges the structuralist tradition in development studies and the political economy of development to look for analytical leverage outside the realm of conventional public financial institutions and a long-overlooked twin role of the banker state as an investor in socially cohesive industrial competitiveness and provider of countercyclical finance.

A working paper by Cornel Ban and Shanuki Tillekerante expands this work through a systematic appraisal of the embedded autonomy of all significant development banks in the world. The authors ask whether or not there are revolving doors between the private sector and international bureaucracies and whether or not these elites are predominantly national or cosmopolitan in terms of their professional backgrounds. 

The authors find that elites at large, influential national development banks (NDBs) have primarily national, public sector backgrounds while NDBs in smaller countries are more cosmopolitan in nature. The evidence suggests that there is no correlation between the size of a bank and the extent to which its elites come from international careers. These findings encourage a closer evaluation and comparison of these interesting cases to understand what explains variation in professional backgrounds of elites at different financial institutions.

Read the Working Paper