The Review of International Organizations

, Volume 6, Issue 3–4, pp 369–391 | Cite as

Foreign aid and global governance: Buying Bretton Woods – the Swiss-bloc case

  • James Raymond VreelandEmail author


Power in the world’s preeminent international financial institutions—the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund—resides in their Executive Boards. How do governments get elected to these international committees? This study quantitatively explores whether wealthy governments provide more foreign aid to poor governments that offer them political support. The focus is on Switzerland, which is elected to the Executive Board of the Bretton Woods Institutions by a group of countries from Central and Western Asia, and Eastern and Southern Europe. Results confirm the hypothesis. Implications for governance in a multipolar world are discussed.


Switzerland Foreign aid IMF World Bank Central Asia Global governance 

JEL codes

F33 F35 F5 F53 F55 



I thank the following people who offered suggestions: Peter Bernholz, Marc Busch, Thane Clare, Raphael Cohen, Raj Desai, Jeff Donnithorne, Axel Dreher, Martin Gassebner, Nikhil Kalyanpur, Christopher Kilby, Michael Lamla, Jamus Lim, Rodney Ludema, Anna Maria Mayda, Ryan Powers, Dennis Quinn, Julia Shvets, Jan-Egbert Sturm, Michael Tierney, Jennifer Tobin, Erik Voeten, Jürg Vollenweider, Catherine Weaver, Thomas Willett, Garth Willis, Sven Wilson, Ngaire Woods, and, especially, the two anonymous referees. I am particularly indebted to Jessica Lawson, who offered detailed comments on the style and substance. I am also grateful to participants at the following conferences: The AidData Conference (University College, Oxford, March 22–25, 2010), The Mortara Center Research Workshop Series on the International Politics of the Financial Crisis (Georgetown University, May 6–7, 2010), The Egon Sohmen Memorial Conference (Tübingen, Germany, June 10–13, 2010), and The Silvaplana Workshop on Political Economy (Hotel Schweizerhof, Pontresina, Switzerland, July 24–28, 2010). This study was originally drafted for the PLAID Data Quality Workshop (Stimson Center, Washington, DC, September 17–18, 2009).

Supplementary material (11 kb)
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ESM 2 (DTA 1.17 mb)
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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and the Department of GovernmentGeorgetown UniversityWashingtonUSA

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