Leadership selection in the major global economic organizations produced unprecedented levels of public conflict during the 1990s. The convention that awards the IMF managing directorship to a European and the World Bank presidency to an American sparked conflict between the United States and Europe as well as growing discontent on the part of Japan and the developing countries. At the WTO, successive conflicts demonstrate deeper shortcomings in governance as membership expands rapidly and consensus decision making fails. Protracted efforts to choose new heads of these increasingly important organizations have undermined their legitimacy and distracted members from their core agendas.
This selection process and its flaws provide a central theme for the analysis and prescriptions presented in this study, which focuses on the major international financial institutions (IFIs) and other global and regional multilaterals. Author Miles Kahler looks at the sources of conflict and presents recommendations for reform: in the short run, changes in the process, such as the use of search committees; in the long run, the dismantling of the US-European convention at the IFIs and changes in representation at the WTO. The author's diagnosis and policy recommendations have important implications for leadership selection in other regional and global organizations.
Introduction: Conflict Over Leadership Selection