World Bank Influence and Institutional Reform in Argentina


  • Maria F. Tuozzo

    1. is affiliated with the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales in Argentina (Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, Argentina). Besides governance and development, her recent work and interests include institutional reforms and institutional learning among international aid agencies. She can be contacted at Area of International Relations, Ayacucho 555 (C1026AAC) Buenos Aires, Argentina; e-mail:
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  • The author would like to thank Professor Ngaire Woods and Professor Diane Stone for their insightful comments on her PhD thesis, from which this article is drawn, and the anonymous referees of this journal for helpful feedback on an earlier version.


During the 1990s, reforms concerned with ‘good governance’ became popular with multilateral and bilateral lenders. This trend was led by the World Bank, which claimed that in order to achieve economic development, institutions mattered. This article looks at governance reforms in Argentina, specifically in the judicial sector, and contends that World Bank involvement affected the nature, reach and depth of these initiatives. The influence of the Bank can be traced through three dimensions that have characterized its approach to institutional reform: donor-driven designs for project reform; reliance on technical approaches; and restricted forms of decision making in project initiatives. Such an approach to institutional change conditioned domestic reform in Argentina and contributed to piecemeal and inadequate initiatives. The author also argues that the Bank's approach in Argentina can be traced to wider strategies that derive from embedded institutional practices and ideological foundations within the institution that throw into question the Bank's capacities to promote such reforms.