Gerardo Bracho

Alumni Senior Expert Fellow

Forschungsprojekt am Kolleg

The Rise and Fall of the Modern Aid Industry: The Development Assistance Group (OECD) and the Impact of the Emerging Donors.

As is the case with most international agendas, the rise of China and other southern powers has unsettled the development cooperation agenda. This agenda is now in crisis and reaching a turning point. Is the North/South typology still relevant? Which countries should give aid to which others, why, by which mechanisms and in which amounts? These and other issues that seemed settled just a few years ago are today open questions. My research will tackle the present crisis of the aid agenda in a historical context, focusing on two particular set of actors: the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), the club of official donors hosted by the OECD that has played a paramount role in shaping the modern aid industry, and the group of Southern Emerging donors lead by China, which have been operating in the development cooperation agenda under the South-South paradigm. Indeed this crisis can be reasonably portrayed as resulting from the impact of the new emerging Southern donors on an aid industry largely shaped by the Western traditional donors grouped in the DAC.

In a broad sense my research is about the rise and fall of the modern aid industry. But it will approach this story from the guiding light of how has the DAC reacted and accommodated to the major geopolitical shifts that have unsettled the development-aid architecture and the universe of its major players, the official donors. Three such geopolitical shifts are identified. First, the  decline of Colonialism and the Colonial powers and the concomitant rise of the USA, the USSR and the Third World which underpinned: the birth of the North South divide and the development paradigm, the take-off of the aid industry and the creation of the DAC and other aid-oriented institutions. Second, the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the communist alternative to development; a geopolitical earthquake that strongly reshaped the aid industry and its narrative.  Finally, the rise of China and of other emerging southern powers which are challenging the very foundations of the aid industry and architecture, and which plunged the DAC and other aid institutions into crisis.


April 2016  – März 2017