Ethics, aid, and organisational characteristics: are multilateral aid organisations more likely to be driven by ethical considerations than their bilateral counterparts?
KeywordsJZ International relations
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AbstractThe role of ethics in international politics is highly contested. Despite this contestation, there is a widespread assertion that multilateral aid organisations (MLOs) are more likely to be driven by ethical considerations than bilateral aid organisations (BLOs). However, this claim has not been systematically established or examined. To address this gap, this thesis first develops a framework for analysing the importance of ethical considerations, and, second, applies it to the introduction of a ‘new’ norm – Women/Gender and Development (WID/GAD) – into three organisations with different organisational characteristics: UNDP, EC/EU and ODA/DFID, using the method of comparative heuristic case studies. The analysis aims to establish the extent to which norm integration was driven by ethical considerations, and if this was influenced by organisational characteristics. The thesis finds that ethical considerations played a minor role in all organisations, suggesting that organisations as such are generally not likely to be driven by ethical considerations. However, the analysis also finds that people within the organisations seemed likely to be driven by ethical considerations, and, when given the freedom, power, and resources to act, they could drive norm integration and have their ethical commitments reflected at organisational-level. The level of freedom, power, and resources of these individuals was significantly influenced by organisational characteristics. Specifically, characteristics typical of MLOs are found to provide a restrictive environment, while characteristics typical of BLOs, if combined with a committed decision-maker, provide an enabling environment for committed actors to drive norm integration. However, BLOs are volatile and, without a committed decision-maker, are likely to take no action at all on a new norm. MLOs, due to their high susceptibility to scrutiny, are more likely to always take some action on a new norm – just not action driven by ethical considerations. These findings question MLOs’ claim to substantive moral legitimacy and provide a potential explanation for weak integration of WID/GAD in many development organisations.
Ussar, Margit (2014) Ethics, aid, and organisational characteristics: are multilateral aid organisations more likely to be driven by ethical considerations than their bilateral counterparts? PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).