, Volume 6, Issue 3-4, pp 457-460
Date: 02 Apr 2011

Comment on Michaelowa and Michaelowa (2011): Climate business for poverty reduction: The role of the World Bank

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In 1962, Milton Friedman wrote that “there is one and only one social responsibility of business—to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.” Friedman’s statement was clearly directed at private businesses in market economies, but it nonetheless invokes food for thought when we consider the roles and responsibilities of modern international governmental financial institutions today. In the case of the World Bank—the international organization (IO) under investigation in Michaelowa and Michaelowa’s (2011) insightful essay in this issue—the notion of socially responsible behavior is a complex one. Is the World Bank (hereafter the Bank) ultimately supposed to be a bank, motivated by profit accumulation? Or is the World Bank supposed to be a development agency, driven first and foremost by poverty alleviation goals?