Carrots, Sticks, and Ethnic Conflict

Rethinking Development Assistance
Milton J. Esman and Ronald J. Herring, Editors
Investigates whether international development assistance helps or aggravates ethnic strife


Development assistance employs carrots and sticks to influence regimes and obtain particular outcomes: altered economic policies, democratization, relief of suffering from catastrophes. Wealthy nations and international agencies such as the World Bank justify development assistance on grounds of improving the global human condition. Over the last forty years, however, ethnic conflict has increased dramatically. Where does ethnic conflict fit within this set of objectives? How do the resources, policy advice, and conditions attached to aid affect ethnic conflict in countries in which donors intervene? How can assistance be deployed in ways that might moderate rather than aggravate ethnic tensions?

These issues are addressed comparatively by area specialists and participant-observers from development assistance organizations. This book is the first systematic effort to evaluate this dimension of international affairs--and to propose remedies. Case studies include Russia, Ecuador, Sri Lanka, and Kenya, with references to many other national experiences.

Cross-cutting chapters consider evolution of USAID and the World Bank's policies on displacement of people by development projects, as well as how carrots and sticks may affect ethnic dynamics, but through different mechanisms and to varying degrees depending on political dynamics and regime behaviors. They show that projects may also exacerbate ethnic conflict by reinforcing territoriality and exposing seemingly unfair allocative principles that exclude or harm some while benefiting others.

For students of international political economy, development studies, comparative politics, and ethnic conflict, this book illuminates a problem area that has long been overlooked in international affairs literature. It is essential reading for staff members and policymakers in development assistance agencies and international financial institutions.

Milton J. Esman is the John S. Knight Professor of International Studies, Emeritus, and Professor of Government, Emeritus, at Cornell University.

Ronald J. Herring is Director of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell, the John S. Knight Professor of International Relations, and Professor of Government at Cornell University.

Praise / Awards

  • "This is a work of great wisdom, originality, and practical importance. By heeding its recommendations, we can substantially enhance the benefits of development aid to the many countries beset by ethnic conflicts."
    —Arend Lijphart, Emeritus, University of California, San Diego
  • "A superb collection on a neglected but crucial topic: the ethnic consequences, intended and otherwise, of foreign aid. An invaluable volume for decision makers and scholars."
    —Donald L. Horowitz, Duke Law School
  • "A cumulative and devastating critique of the World Bank and IMF's myopic paradigm: its grand abstractions and metrics as applied to growth, development, and the nation state."
    —James C. Scott, Yale University
  • "A fascinating set of accounts about how ethnicity puts its mark on the operation of donor programs, distorting the best-laid plans. At the same time, and importantly, the book offers grounded advice on ways out of this dilemma."
    —Judith Tendler, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • "Donors have traditionally ignored ethnic conflicts in aid receiving countries. They do so at their peril according to this fascinating book by Esman and Herring. Everyone interested in foreign aid should read this book; they will never be the same afterwards."
    —William Easterly, World Bank
  • "This excellent collection of essays takes the reader into a complex area: the relationship between economic development and ethnic conflict. . . . . The book illuminates the ethnic dimensions of development assistance and shows how ignorance, indifference, and commercial and state interest can turn international projects into catalysts for ethnic conflict. Fortunately, it also offers some sound advice on how this can be avoided."
    —Stephen Ryan, University of Ulster, American Political Science Review, September 2002

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 272pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2003
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08927-7

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  • $33.95 U.S.

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