Books in brief

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
Published Date:
January 1998
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Richard H.R. Harper

Inside the IMF

An Ethnography of Documents, Technology, and Organizational Action

Academic Press, San Diego, California, 1998, xii + 303 pp., $75 (cloth).

THIS book draws on extensive research during which the author had access to IMF staff at all levels. It describes the particular nature of the day-to-day demands placed on the institution and how work is organized and carried out to meet its various responsibilities. On this basis, the author develops important insights into the ways in which information technologies could be used to improve productivity while analyzing the constraints that the nature of the staff’s work (and its working culture) places on the use of these new technologies. For the outside reader interested in how organizational cultures and technology work together, the book highlights how much organizational information is needed if new technologies are to be applied in an effective way.

This book is not a typical treatment of the IMF. Readers may assume from its title that the book deals with how economic policies and issues are dealt with in the IMF. Rather, the book is about a completely different subject—organizational behavior—and, as a case study of an international bureaucracy and how it deals with complex issues under pressure, the book will be of particular interest to students of organizational behavior.

Brian C. Stuart

Ian G. Heggie and Piers Vickers

Commercial Management and Financing of Roads

World Bank, Washington, DC, 1998, viii + 158 pp., $20 (paper).

THE purpose of this book is to assist governments to commercialize their roads, that is, to “bring roads into the marketplace, put them on a fee-for-service basis, and manage them like a business.” Although written for officials in developing countries, the lessons of this book can be applied everywhere, because roads in all countries are still run as if they were public parks or social services, with little regard for commercial considerations. While not answering all questions of commercial management and financing, this book sheds light on many of them. Its strength lies in sound analysis, clear writing, and mountains of data.

This book is an expanded, updated, and international version of World Bank Technical Paper No. 275 in the Africa Technical Series and includes examples from industrial, developing, and transition economies. An article based on the earlier paper, “Commercializing Africa’s Roads,” by Rupert Pennant-Rea and Ian Heggie, appeared in the December 1995 issue of Finance & Development.

Gabriel Roth


The World Bank, NGOs, and Grassroots Movements

edited by Jonathan A. Fox and L. David Brown

“This book offers a sound and thorough study of NGO campaigns around the world and provides a critical appraisal of the greening and increased transparency Of the World Bank. The authors deliver one of the few careful and systematic evaluations on this highly emotional and polemical topic”

—Peter M. Haas. University of Massachusetts at Amherst

“The Struggle for Accountability provides the first comprehensive evaluation of the debates, struggles, setbacks, and limited victories of World Bank officials and their activist critics. This body of evidence provides a valuable window into a complex set of relationships that has real relevance to today’s efforts to link local realities to global policy formulation and reform.”

—Raymond C. Offenheiser, President, Oxfam America

To order call 800-3560343 (US & Canada) or (617) 625SS69. Prices higher outside U.S. and subject to change without notice.

The MIT Press

584 pp., 10 illus. $30 paper

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