Responsibility and its Avoidance: The Case of Aid
What is good practice in aid administration? This article, based on the
reflections of an insider practitioner, finds that unequal relationships
between donor and recipient and the ambiguous nature of aid as a gift
between one country and another, creates a complexity that is difficult to
negotiate in practice. A key finding is that neither market nor administrative
rationality fit the needs of the exchange, although the rules of aid
administration feature both. Instead, a third logic; the ambiguous social
logic of the gift, creates opportunities for practitioners of good intent on
either side to go beyond the contract obligations or rules of office to
overcome negativities and achieve positive outcomes. At project level this to
advocate a role for the mutuality of friendship that both administrative
norms and market theory disallow as dangerous. At intergovernmental
level, inequality persists in ways that are not masked by the language of
partnerships that now pervades aid administration. The paper concludes
with the thought that this may change, as will the nature of aid, as
countries North and South negotiate a shared destiny in a warming World.
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