Rethinking Development Assistance


David Ellerman, University of California at Riverside

“The World Bank, the leading multilateral development agency, begins its mission statement with a dedication to helping people help themselves, and Oxfam, a leading nongovernmental organization (NGO) working on development, states that its "main aim is to help people to help themselves" reads the opening paragraph from David Ellerman’s book 'Helping People Help Themselves'.



David Ellerman's ten years at the World Bank—and particularly out of his three years as advisor and speechwriter for Joseph Stiglitz during Stiglitz's tumultuous term as the Bank's Chief Economist, allowed him to become a particular acute critic of what he refers as “half century of failures of social engineering to "engineer" development.”

Beginning with the assertion that development assistance agencies are inherently structured to provide help that is ultimately unhelpful by overriding or undercutting the capacity of people to help themselves, David Ellerman provides a structural critique of the common approach to development assistance and lays the intellectual foundations for an alternative approach.


About the speaker
David P. Ellerman works in the fields of economics and political economy, social theory and philosophy, and in mathematics. His undergraduate degree was in philosophy at M.I.T. ('65), and he has Masters degrees in Philosophy of Science ('67) and in Economics ('68), and a doctorate in Mathematics ('71) all from Boston University. He has been in and out of teaching in economics, mathematics, accounting, computer science, and operations research departments in various universities (1970-90), founded and managed a consulting firm in East Europe (1990-2), and worked in the World Bank from 1992 to 2003 where he was an economic advisor to the Chief Economist (Joseph Stiglitz and Nicholas Stern). Now he is a visiting scholar at the University of California in Riverside. He has published numerous articles in various fields and five books

Venue: MGSoG, Kapoenstraat 2, Maastricht

Date: 06 September 2007

Time: 16:00


UNU-MERIT