Doing Missionary Work

The World Bank and the Diffusion of Financial Practices

By Dean Neu and Elizabeth Ocampo  

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The more things change, the more they remain the same: the image of David Livingstone toiling in Africa has been replaced by the image of a well-dressed World Bank bureaucrat travelling by jet, dropping in to consult with governments in the developing world before returning home. Likewise, the tools of missionary work have changed. While the promise of betterment and salvation remains, a testament that talks about planning mechanisms, performance indicators and financial reports has replaced the Bible. Through a study of education reform in Latin America, this book examines how these financial missions ‘work’ and the intended and unintended consequences.

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  • Introduction
  • The Bank and Its Public Persona
  • Globalization and the World Bank
  • Theorizing Bank Activities; Understanding Bank Involvement
  • Banking on Education in Latin America
  • Diffusion of Financial Mechanisms in Two Countries
  • The Missionary Encounter in Rural Colombia
  • Project Implementation
  • Monitoring and Reporting
  • Micro-Politics
  • Doing Missionary Work


  • Dean Neu


    Dean Neu became a faculty member in the Haskayne School of Business in 1989. Prior to joining the faculty, he completed a PhD in Accounting and Organizational Theory at Queen’s University. Dean has been a visiting professor at the University of Alberta, the University of Toronto and Universidad de Autonoma del Estado de Morelos in Mexico. He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Alberta

    As an accounting scholar and activist, Dean is committed to unveiling the presence of accounting where we might not otherwise expect to find it, he has in numerous articles and public appearances revealed how accounting plays a mediative role between governments and population segments. His research and writing demonstrate how accounting, working hand in hand with bureaucracies, shapes and constructs societal governance. In this work, the disguise of accounting as a boring benign appendage to business and government is stripped away to reveal how accounting numbers play a crucial role in shaping public policy and the perceptions the public has of those policies.

    Dean has published more than fifty research articles in the leading academic and practitioner journals in the field. His awards include: the 1997 Distinguished Service Award from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Alberta in recognition of academic and activist contributions, the 1997 Research Award for outstanding research achievements in the previous year, the 2000 recipient of the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Research Leadership, and the 2000 recipient of the MBA society’s award for teaching excellence.

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