In an excellent piece, Sebastian Mallaby writes:
…the biggest misconception about the bank is that it needs the goading
force of Wolfowitz to fight graft in poor countries. Even before
Wolfowitz arrived in 2005, the bank was trying to plug leaks in
government budgets, reform civil services and back new anti-fraud
units: From 2000 to 2004 the bank’s lending to improve public-sector
governance grew 11 percent annually. Wolfowitz’s goal was to take these
anti-corruption efforts to the next level. The instinct was noble; the
As an outsider it is hard to judge many aspects of Wolfowitz’s tenure. I take his continuing unwillingness to resign to be the biggest argument against his managerial abilities. He has lost the public relations battle and can no longer be effective. Why should he want the job any more? The obvious hypothesis is that he is emotionally committed to a losing battle, and is not placing much weight on the long-term interests of the institution he is running.
Addendum: Chris Masse points me to this good article on the crisis facing the World Bank. I would add that the real "corruption" problem is that the Bank’s board expects lucrative "development" contracts to be given to national firms of France, Germany, U.S., etc. In the final analysis the Bank has a strong incentive to push through loans, whether it should or not. Recipient nations have learned how to game this system very well. I believe this more or less legal form of corruption is well understood by Wolfowitz and his ultimate goal was to challenge the institution at its core.