Abstract: David Lilienthal, the World Bank, and the Development of a Transnational Network of International Economic Advising, 1950-1960

Elisa Grandi


International economic advising is built on the complex interaction between different actors on many levels. Multiple entities are positioned between international lending institutions and local governments in the coordination of development programs. Our paper focuses on the interaction between the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, commonly called "the World Bank," and David Lilienthal's consulting firm, "Development and Resource Corporation," which collaborated with the international advising missions led by the Bank during the 1950s. We analyze their first projects together, shedding light on the way in which their policies emerged and on the reception of these policies by host countries, through the development of a "know-how" in the interaction with international lending institutions. We examine, in particular, the first collaboration between Lilienthal and the World Bank, concerning the Bank's intervention in India (1950-1951), their intervention in Colombia in the creation of the Cauca Valley Corporation (1953-1956), and their negotiations with private Italian firms (1955-1960). Through these three cases we illustrate how the first steps of the collaboration between David Lilienthal and the World Bank contributed to the development of a transnational network of economic advisors that shaped development policies and projects as a body of knowledge continually re-adapted.