Mixing Truth & Power: A Guest Editorial

This guest editorial in the December 2001 World Bank Staff Association Newsletter served two purposes.  After the dissent-motivated departures of Joseph Stiglitz, Ravi Kanbur, and now Bill Easterly, even “the most casual observer” can begin to “connect the dots” and see that the Bank is having a problem handling dissent and criticism coming from internal sources.  This editorial traces the problem to the organizational stance of taking “Official Views” on the complex questions of development–thereby mixing power and truth to the detriment of the latter.  The problem is aggravated when the public relations staff “do their job” to see that staff researchers stay “on message.”  The second purpose of the editorial is to further the creation of a public space within the Bank so that staff can publicly talk to staff about Bank issues independent of management control and censure.  The Bank advocates the creation of that public space to support civil society dialogue in its work so it would only seem proper to lead with its own example.

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