Xu, Jiajun. 2017. Beyond US Hegemony in International
Development: The Contest for Influence at the World Bank.
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
Published online: 12 February 2017
Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017
1 Book summary
Jiajun Xu studies how power transitions affect the outcomes of replenishment confer-
ences at the International Development Association (IDA) – a development fund
managed by the World Bank to assist least developed countries with highly conces-
sional development funding. This is a timely analysis given that the multilateral
development system is witnessing the advent of new institutions. After World War II,
the multilateral development system reflected the dominant position of the United
States – with only a few institutions addressing the development needs of least
developed countries. During the Cold War, power shifts among donor states led to
readjustments of voting weights within the existing system. In the most recent decade,
however, China emerged as a credible challenger to American hegemony, attempting to
gain influence within the established multilateral institutions while also crafting new
institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the New
Development Bank (NDB).
Xu identifies three puzzles that the existing literature cannot answer satisfactorily.
First, IDA contributions do not closely mirror economic capabilities. Which factors
other than the capacity to pay of a donor thus determine its contribution? Second, the
US hegemon further increased its policy influence even when its financial contributions
decreased. How could the hegemon maintain its power despite flagging contributions?
And why did ascending powers not more rapidly assume bigger shares in IDA funding?
Third, US power progressively eroded in the past decade, despite only a mild US share
cut. Why did burden-shifting occur at a greater scale than predicted by underlying
Rev Int Organ (2017) 12:491–495
* Bernhard Reinsberg
University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK