Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Merry Sisterhood or Guarded Watchfulness? Cooperation Between the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank

By Michael Fabricius


Since their inception at the end of the Second World War, the sister organizations of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have aimed to consistently speak with one voice vis-à-vis their member governments. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that they often do not speak in one voice. Fabricius draws on field research conducted in Ghana, Pakistan, Peru, and Vietnam to identify the conditions that determine whether or not the organizations are indeed on the same page and to address whether their traditional plea for consistency is always desirable. He recommends which measures seem crucial to ensure Bank-Fund consistency. At the same time he argues that under certain conditions, this consistency may lead to policy choices that are only second-best. He proposes that the Bank and the Fund pursue a case-specific approach in deciding whether they should take the same stance. A more flexible approach may increase not only the ownership of borrowing countries but also the sustainability of policy choices.World Bank, International Monetary Fund, cooperation, roles, Bretton Woods

OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (2001). 23). Available at the IMF’s website, (accessed
  2. (1989). 30). Available at the IMF’s website, (accessed on
  3. (1991). A Qualitative Comparative Approach to Latin American Revolutions.
  4. (2006). A Strategy for IMF Reform. Policy Analyses
  5. (2006). Available at the World Bank’s website, (accessed
  6. (1999). Bank-Fund Financial Sector Liaison Committee.
  7. (1992). Challenging Conventional Explanations of International Cooperation: Negotiation Analysis and the Case of Epistemic Communities.
  8. (1986). Complex Organizations: A Critical Essay.
  9. (2002). Delivering on Debt Relief: From IMF Gold to a New Aid Architecture.
  10. (1988). Disjunction between Policy Research and Practice: Social Benefit–Cost Analysis and Investment Policy at the World Bank.
  11. (2005). Evaluating the CDF: Ownership and Participation.
  12. (1961). Exchange as a Conceptual Framework for the Study of Interorganizational Relationships.
  13. (1970). Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States.
  14. (1998). External Evaluation of Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF): Report by a Group of Independent Experts. Available at the IMF’s website, (accessed on
  15. (1992). External Influence, Conditionality, and the Politics of Adjustment.
  16. (2006). IMF Facilities for Poststabilization Low-Income Countries.
  17. (2006). IMF Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato and World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz Initiate Deeper Measures to Review and Enhance IMF-World Bank Cooperation. Press Release No.
  18. (1998). Inside the IMF: An Ethnography of Documents, Technology, and Organisational Action.
  19. (2006). Internal Governance and IMF Performance.
  20. (1990). Introduction: The Politics of Economic Adjustment in Developing Nations.
  21. (1999). Merry Sisterhood or Guarded Watchfulness? The Cooperation Between the IMF and the World Bank. 2 vols.
  22. (2000). Monetary Fund).
  23. (1979). Organizations and Environments.
  24. (1992). Organizations: Rational, Natural, and Open Systems. Englewood Cliffs,
  25. (1986). Overview: An Open Letter to the World Bank’s New President. In Between Two Worlds: The World Bank’s Next Decade,
  26. (1985). Parallel Systems: Redundancy in Government.
  27. (1999). Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers—Operational Issues
  28. (2005). Review of the Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP)
  29. (2001). Silent Revolution: The International Monetary Fund, 1979–1989. Washington: International Monetary Fund.
  30. (2004). Strengthening IMF–World Bank Collaboration on Country Programs and Conditionality Progress Report. Available at the IMF’s website, (accessed on
  31. (1992). Structural Holes: The Social Structure of Competition.
  32. (2004). Supporting Development Programs Effectively Applying the Comprehensive Development Framework Principles: A Staff Guide (November). Available at the World Bank’s website, (accessed
  33. (1987). The Comparative Method: Moving Beyond Qualitative and Quantitative Strategies.
  34. (2006). The Globalizers: The IMF, the World Bank, and Their Borrowers.
  35. (2005). The Hardest Job in the World: Five Crucial Tasks for the New President of the World Bank. Washington: Center for Global Development.
  36. (2006). The IMF: Back to Basics.
  37. (1993). The New Leviathan: Dynamics and Limits of Technocracy.
  38. (1950). The Sociology of Georg Simmel.
  39. (1997). The World Bank and the IMF: A Changing Relationship. In The World Bank: Its First Half Century, Volume Two: Perspectives,
  40. (1994). The World Bank and the IMF: The Future of their Coexistence.
  41. (1989). The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund: Roles in and Beyond the Debt Crisis.
  42. (1997). Wither the World Bank and the IMF? NBER Working Paper 6327.
  43. (2005). World Bank Policy on Disclosure of Information. Available at the World Bank’s website, (accessed

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.