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Kim: Solving All Problems
On July 2, we noted that Jim Kim had expanded the World Bank’s infrastructure financing role to include work on universal health coverage, global education, large scale land acquisitions, ending extreme poverty and inequality, global warming and climate change, universal energy access, doubling the use of renewable energy and improving energy efficiency.
To that list, you can add another responsility that I missed: rising food prices.
The World Bank on Monday said it stood ready to help governments respond to a broad-based run-up in grain prices that has again put the world’s poorest people at risk and could have lingering detrimental impacts for years. “We cannot allow short-term food-price spikes to have damaging long-term consequences for the world’s most poor and vulnerable,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said in statement.
As at the College, Kim’s disconnect between intention and action is embarassing. For a guy who could not implement a Great Issues course for the entire sophomore class, his propensity for throwing the World Bank — or at least saying that he is throwing the World Bank — at the global problem du jour is laughable.
Addendum: For a thoughtful dissection of Kim’s increasingly obvious ineffectiveness as head of the Bank, a piece in Devex entitled “Change is coming to the World Bank… or is it?” summarizes Kim’s management problems quite well:
Already, 43 reform proposals [43!] submitted by staff working groups [where have we heard that before?] have caused internal message boards to light up with anonymous comments that run the gamut from enthusiastic support to deep skepticism. The rampant speculation is testing the leadership’s ability to manage employee expectations…
Some see the challenge of moving from 43 discreet proposals to an integrated strategy for change as the most important piece of the transformation process — and the biggest question mark — since the proposals currently offer no guidance as to how reforms would be sequenced, what would come first, or how they would be implemented.
“It looks like you took 43 working groups and took their decision and then just bolted them all together,” said Cadario. “That’s not how you solve a complex organizational problem.”…
Uncertainty seems to abound at the bank these days as employees question whether Kim’s efforts will bring about much-needed reform or a distracting process with few results…
In an effort to zero in on areas where the bank still maintains a competitive advantage, Kim has pledged to turn it from the “knowledge bank” envisioned by his predecessors — especially former President James Wolfensohn — into what Kim calls a “solutions bank”…
To do so, he seeks a streamlined agency with a narrowed mission — ending extreme poverty by 2030 and fostering inclusive growth. That goal isn’t just ambitious, it may also require painful reforms for a bank that Kim himself has, according to some observers, found lacking in technical expertise… [How would Kim know that?]
In an attempt to make them more accessible, Kim asked the bank’s vice presidents to share his open-floor office space. Several VPs resisted the move, claiming it was impractical to be away from their staff, and ultimately settled on a compromise whereby they split their time between the old and new office spaces in what some employees consider a cumbersome, awkward arrangement…
But since the early days of Kim’s tenure, hope and optimism have been tempered by questions about whether he truly can deliver on the lofty expectations…
Some feel the organizational change Kim promised is being orchestrated behind closed doors by the consultants he brought on board to assess the bank’s organizational culture, while public meetings to generate feedback from employees resemble what one observer called “public ‘ra ra’ sessions” instead of genuine learning opportunities.
And so it goes, as we’ve all seen it in Hanover.
Addendum: Despite his many global responsibilities, Kim did have time to play golf with President Obama several times on the Vineyard this summer. I wonder what prestigious position he was plumping for; you know, he’s always thinking about his next job.
Addendum: A faculty member writes in:
Come on. Kim can do it. If he has everyone at the World Bank put their trash in slurpy containers, as he did at Dartmouth, he’ll have all the resources he needs to eliminate world poverty by 2030.
Addendum: And an alumnus with experience with the World Bank has his say:
The World Bank is eyeball-deep in the neoclassical development-economics’ view of everything and anything. And it’s as disingenuous as needed. Consider the Bank’s calculation of internal rate of return (IRR). If the boss wants to fund a program, then the IRR is favorable. Voila! The Bank, being very big and very rich, hires-in all sorts of technical experts, but the only expertise that matters in the end is microeconomic. I’m sure Kim finds this reality maddening. Sad to say, though, Kim himself seems intent on repeating errors from the Bank’s cyclical grandiosity periods. A collision-with-injuries seems inevitable. Hard not to watch.
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
August 23, 2009
Fare Thee Well, Tom Crady
And now Dean Tom Crady has precipitously announced his departure from the College after only 20 months on the job. How to read this? By way of background, prior to coming to Dartmouth, Crady had…
May 31, 2009
Kangaroo Court, Indeed
In an interview with The Dartmouth, alumni-elected trustee T.J. Rodgers ‘70 explained his reasons for declining to participate in future evaluations of trustees up for “re-election,” namely the “kangaroo court” nature of such discussion in…