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Institutional Design and Power Relations in the African Development Bank

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Unlike other international financial institutions (IFI), when the African Development Bank (ADB) was established it did not offer membership to advanced industrial states. In need of more capital, the ADB decided to admit these countries in 1982. In doing so, it attempted to institute rules to maintain the controlling influence of the regional, African members. One means to this end was to grant regional members (as a bloc) the largest share of votes. This paper analyzes how the addition of the non-regional members affected formal voting power relations. Voting power is calculated using the Banzhaf and Johnston power indicies over five time-points since 1975. The results indicate formal influence in the Bank has changed drastically since the 1982 restructuring. Voting power has been concentrated in a subset of members due in large part to the rise in the number of dictators in the Bank's voting groups. Some members that donate substantial capital have little or no voting power. The results point to a well-known property of weighted voting systems. Namely, the intended appropriation of influence in the form of voting weights often fails to translate into relative voting strength in practice because voting weights need to be considered in relation to other factors such as voting procedures and decision rules.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Political Science, Niagara University, NY 14109, U.S.A.


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