انجام کار تبلیغی: بانک جهانی و گسترش شیوه های مالی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|22972||2007||27 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||محاسبه نشده|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Volume 18, Issue 3, March 2007, Pages 363–389
This study uses the metaphor of a financial mission to explore how World Bank lending practices contribute to the globalization of financial practice. Through the use of interviews with key participants and archival documents pertaining to a World Bank education project in Latin America, we analyze how financial/accounting practices came to be diffused to this particular site. The study highlights not only how Bank lending practices attempt to implant accounting practices and discourses into distant fields but also the slippage, accommodation and resistance that is inherent in these attempts to change the habitus of such fields.
The image of the missionary working in far-off, exotic places has long captivated our attention. Since the publication of David Livingstone's Missionary Travels in 1857, popular and academic interest has focused on how missionaries have brought “civilizing” practices to distant lands, whether through their religious, teaching, medical or trading activities. Although strong disagreements exist as to whether the consequences of missionary activities have, on balance, been positive (cf. Schlesinger, 1974), most commentators agree that during the 19th and 20th centuries missionaries played a central role in diffusing European practices and beliefs throughout the world. More recently, the notion of globalization has captured our attention. Both within the popular and academic press, discourses about globalization are ubiquitous (Waters, 1995, p. 1) with the term being used as a short-form description for the multitude of heterogeneous and contradictory processes that are shaping life in the early 21st century (cf. Steger, 2002). Central to globalization discourses has been the view of globalization as a dialectical, contradictory, unequal, heterogeneous and discontinuous series of social processes whereby the restrictions of geography in the organization of social/cultural arrangements disappear (Harvey, 1989, Giddens, 1990 and Waters, 1995). Like Weber's “iron cage of rationality,” globalization discourses have emphasized the homogenization of social practices across institutional fields as well as the inevitability of such outcomes. Implicit within globalization discourses is the image of the de-personalized diffusion of practices where it is “forces beyond human control that are transforming the world” (Waters, 1995, p. 3). However, as the aforementioned literature on missionaries reminds us, the diffusion of global practice is not a recent phenomenon nor is it necessarily an agency-less process. In this sense, the literature on missionaries echoes the comments of Said, 1979 and Said, 1993, Headrick, 1981, Headrick, 1988 and Headrick, 2000 and others (Bell et al., 1995 and Frenkel and Shehav, 2003) who suggest that the imposition/diffusion of practices was, and continues to be, a characteristic of colonial practices. Thus, this research hints at the importance of not only examining the agents and institutions that act as the carriers of such practices but also the historical continuity of these practices. In the current study, we utilize the metaphor of a financial mission to explore the globalization of financial practice. Starting from prior work on Christian missionaries, we examine how accounting/financial practices have been diffused within a particular setting and by a particular organization. More specifically, we examine the “financial mission” of the World Bank within education in an unnamed Latin American country. Through the use of 25 interviews with key participants and archival documents pertaining to this project and other World Bank projects in Latin America, we analyze the micro-politics associated with the diffusion of financial and accounting practices. The analysis highlights that Bank-sponsored lending projects do facilitate the diffusion of accounting and financial practices; however, this process is not a simple one-to-one translation in that the missionary encounter is characterized by slippages in how financial practices are implemented and come to work as well as by a combination of accommodation and resistance to these techniques on the part of bureaucrats within the field. This study extends our understanding in several ways. First, the study provides a descriptive and site-specific detail on how World Bank lending practices facilitate the diffusion of accounting and financial practices. While there has been a sizeable amount of general commentary regarding the role of international organizations such as the World Bank, there has been less research examining how diffusion of financial practices works in concrete empirical settings (for exceptions see Neu et al., 2005 and Rahaman and Lawrence, 2001a). Second, the study poses the question as to whether World Bank practices are similar or different from previous Christian missionary practices. Through the use of the missionary metaphor, the current study draws attention to both the similarities and discontinuities implicit in World Bank activities. Finally, the study contributes to our understanding of the micro-politics of such processes. In particular, we propose that both the Bank and bureaucrats in distant fields have some agency within lending processes. As a result, the idea that the Bank “imposes” financial and accounting practices on distant fields does not capture the nuances of these processes. Rather as the analysis highlights, slippages, accommodations and resistances characterize the attempted introduction of accounting practices. Thus, while interactions between the Bank and borrower countries are never one of equals, like previous Christian missionary encounters the recipient country maintains the ability to influence and resist these attempted impositions in a variety of subtle ways.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This study examined how financial practices have been diffused by the World Bank to the field of education within an unnamed Latin American country. Starting from the missionary metaphor, we have analyzed how accounting and other financial practices came to be implanted within the field of education via the design, implementation and monitoring of a World Bank project. Our analysis highlighted the complexity of such missionary encounters in that Bank attempts to introduce financial practices invariably involved slippages in how the practices were implemented and worked as well as accommodations and resistances on the part of the educational bureaucrats. The analysis complements, extends and challenges our understanding of such processes in three ways. First, the analysis highlights both how accounting/financial technologies are implanted within World Bank documents and subsequently diffused to distant sites as well as how these documents are predicated on a series of accounting translations. Thus, on one level, the analysis illustrates how financial practices are diffused to distant sites and how this diffusion is almost agency-less in the sense that documents such as Bank lending agreements act as the carriers of financial practice. In this way, the study echoes the globalization literature and its emphasis on the almost automatic diffusion of practices across different sites. However, on another level, the analysis makes visible the role of agency in these processes. Documents such as the project planning documents and lending agreements are the result of a series of translations whereby Bank experts and their hired consultants have taken the abstract notion of a rural education project and rendered it into a particular shape and form via a series of accounting and financial techniques. Techniques such as return on investment and sensitivity analysis as well as the acts of constructing and writing plans not only diffuse a particular way of envisioning rural education but also diffuse a series of techniques that become implanted into the field of education. Thus, the study illustrates how financial technologies are both the carriers of particular mentalities and missionary techniques. Second, while the provided analysis provides a partial explanation for why different institutional fields come to look alike (cf. DiMaggio and Powell, 1983), it also challenges us to recognize that once we get beyond the superficial similarities, institutional fields may look quite different. Stated differently, a simple reading of World Bank lending agreements would suggest that the fields of education are almost the same in that each lending agreement has implanted similar accounting and financial technologies and has adopted similar vocabularies. Yet as the current study illustrated, acts of slippage, accommodation and resistance are endemic to the missionary encounter. As a result the ways in which financial practices are understood, taken up and utilized will vary across institutional fields. Thus, the analysis highlights the importance of understanding the micro-politics of these encounters (Ailon-Souday and Kunda, 2003, Burchell et al., 1980 and Hopwood, 1987), especially the ways in which the configurations of capitals and social relations within the field shape and constrain the deployment of accounting technologies. Finally, the analysis challenges us to think about the long-term effects associated with Bank involvement. We have stressed throughout the analysis that the micro-processes associated with Bank involvement are considerably more complex than the simple imposition of financial and accounting practices. Because of the slippages and resistances inherent in the missionary encounter, implanted technologies did not work as Bank officials intended. However, it is important to acknowledge that they did “work” in that they changed the way that education bureaucrats and government officials talked about, thought about and administered education. For example, in a follow-up visit some 18 months after our original interviews it was obvious that educational bureaucrats had taken up and embraced many of these administrative techniques and were attempting to implement them in areas and ways not envisioned by the original lending agreement. Thus, like the work of Oakes et al. (1998), the current study challenges us to both recognize the way that quotidian accounting practices work to re-form the capitals and habitus of institutional fields and to broaden our definition of what counts as “success” in such situations. Like the work of Comaroff and Comaroff (1991), we propose that although the missionary encounter involves more than imposition, Bank involvement does change the habitus of distant fields. While the current study has contributed to the understanding of financial missionary practices, a series of questions remain. For example, the current study has concentrated on the impact that World Bank activities have had on education in an unnamed Latin American country. However, our analysis has focused on the missionary encounter between the Bank and educational bureaucrats rather than the impact that these practices have had on the practices of rural education per se. Additional work is needed to understand how these practices are translated and diffused to individual school districts and schools. This work would help us understand the chains of translations that are involved in such processes. Similarly, additional work is needed to trace both the longitudinal effects of Bank interventions as well as the way that these processes work in different countries and different institutional fields. Through such analyses we will be in a better position to understand the importance of current-day missionaries such as the World Bank in the globalization of financial practice. In 1900 McKinley asserted that the contribution of missionaries “to the onward and upward march of humanity was beyond all calculation” (quoted in Ustorf, 1998). Clearly the current study is more equivocal about the consequences of missionary activities; however, we cannot deny that financial calculation forms the basis for the missionary activities of the Bank.