The Meaning of Development Assistance

Peter Blunt, Mark Turner, Jana Hertz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Prevailing paradigms of macro-economic management and levels and distributions of poverty in some rich countries suggest that economic and strategic self-interest rather than poverty reduction in poor countries are likely to be the primary objectives of much development assistance. The incommensurability of the paradigms of development discourse makes it unlikely that strongly held ideologically based positions on these matters will change quickly or easily. Moreover, non-altruistic positions can be maintained more readily by virtue of the loose construction of international declarations such as the Paris Declaration. Based on different interpretations of the Paris Declaration, empirical evidence from Cambodia and Indonesia of donor opportunism that is designed to maximise aid control and aid distinctiveness for non-altruistic purposes is presented. Recent sharp declines in donor legitimacy have made this more difficult to do, but even so, there have been no concomitant reductions in donor self-assurance concerning their exclusive possession of the moral and technical high ground. Such behaviour is, however, increasingly resented particularly by government officials in lower middle-income countries like Indonesia. Resulting relationships lack trust and are therefore unlikely to contribute optimally either to the realisation of non-altruistic purposes or to poverty reduction
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-187
Number of pages16
JournalPublic Administration and Development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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