Since its inception in December of 2015, scholars and policy-makers have been debating the motivations behind the design of the AIIB. This paper advances this debate by exploring whether and how the AIIB’s structure follow the design pattern of other leading MDBs, and how well did it manage to integrate institutional effectiveness considerations with promoting its largest shareholders’ geo-economic interests. It does so by comparing the design of the AIIB with that of the ADB and the World Bank, while integrating several approaches to institutional design. I argue that the AIIB’s architects identified certain functional deficiencies in the performance of existing financial institutions and attempted to establish an alternative that will better address these deficiencies. To achieve that, they tried to balance between certain structural features that promote institutional performance with features that promote powerful creditors’ geo-economic interests, as well as invest in AIIB’s attractiveness vis-à-vis other financial institutions. This paper finds that in multilateral development banks power considerations tend to overshadow issues of institutional effectiveness, while sometimes these are successfully integrated. And, that powerful actors are able to politicize certain functional design features and reassign their purpose from solving cooperation problems to advancing geo-economic interests.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
I thank Galia Press Bar-Nathan, Yoram Haftel, Kai He and Alexander Thompson for their invaluable comments on earlier drafts. I also thank the Editors and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.
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- Asian Development Bank
- Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
- World Bank
- institutional design
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Sociology and Political Science