The race begins

As speculation grows about the timing of Bob Zoellick’s departure announcement, it’s time to reflect on the process, and on the qualifications for his successor, independently of speculation on good or bad potential candidates.

In June 2007 the Executive Directors of the World Bank should have set in place their own oversight mechanisms, and procedures for evaluating Zoellick’s performance, and that of his management team. They didn’t do that.

A way to start would have been to get the a baseline measure of his skills as a manager and leader, from what he had done before in his long years in the US government, and his brief stints at Goldman Sachs and Fannie Mae. They didn’t do that.

They might also have agreed on a private annual feedback process from Board members, based on input from staff, senior colleagues, and clients on their interactions with him. They didn’t do that.

In 2007 very few anticipated the Great Recession, and its impact on both rich and poor countries, but they could have asked Bob Zoellick for his vision of the future of the World Bank Group, and his ideas for leading the organization and its stakeholders–including the Executive Directors–toward that vision.  They didn’t do that.

As Robert Zoellick prepares to move on, maybe, to use IDA tagline’s, “now is the time.”

6 thoughts on “The race begins

  1. When the fight for the IMF Managing Direcotr was hotting up, there was evidence that the Americans were aiming at the World Bank post as their birth right. In their discussions with China over Madam Lagarde’s appointment, there was an unwritten understanding that the Bank post would go to the US and Zhu Minh would get appointed to the IMF. Since then there have been major developments. G-20 – that mythical beast – is no longer united or strong. It is unlikely to unite and stand up to the Americans. The tragedy is that the US is not able or willing to contirbute to the Bank funds as in the past. Even so, it will run away with the post.

  2. Obama will never select a non American in an election year. Even if few Americans have heard of the World Bank, there is too much criticism of his ‘otherness’ for him to risk it. Larry Summers is a ‘head fake’. While everyone is foaming at the mouth at the thought of Larry, Geithner will slide into the job.

  3. Many believe that the leak about Larry Summers was so that the White House could tell him, based on the strongly negative reaction, “we’re sorry, Larry, you’d be a great candidate [as all your lobbying has put out there] given your time there before, and your leadership at Harvard. But you surely understand that this would not be good for the US, or for the Administration. With great regret, Larry, we have to find someone else.” He takes one for the team. In any event, it might have been hard for him to stand in front of all those “ThinkEqual” signs and branding that accompanied the WDR on gender.

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