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Does Foreign Aid Really Work?

Does Foreign Aid Really Work? [Kindle Edition]

Roger C. Riddell
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Description


This volume is a valuable resource and an important contribution to the literature on foreign aid. (Social and Behavioral sciences )

Riddell provides a compelling and thorough account of the intricacies of foreign aid (International Affairs )

...[an] excellent and significant book... (Alex De Waal, Times Literary Supplement )

...everything anyone might want to know about the subject. (Nigel Grimwade, Times Higher Education Supplement )

For anyone who wants to know more about development assistance, this is a 'must- read'. Roger Riddell provides us with a nuanced and honest outline of past and current aid-flows, their complexities, trends and possible impact. Does aid really work? His answer is a conditional, cautious - yes. And he presents some bold proposals to address some of the systemic weaknesses. It was strong international leadership that delivered the aid-reforms of the 90's. The question is whether the current leaders in development are ready for this debate? (Hilde Frafjord Johnson, former Minister of International Development of Norway )

In this impressive new study, Riddell has surpassed even his distinguished Foreign Aid Reconsidered. It includes a rare and much-needed analysis of emergency and voluntary assistance. Complete and authoritative, the book will have a long life as the definitive account of its important subject. (Professor Robert Cassen, London School of Economics )

This book is a heroic achievement. Not only has Roger Riddell mapped out with great clarity the arcane world of international aid, in a way that will help the practitioner as much as the general reader, he has also produced visionary and challenging recommendations for reform of the system. (Sir Michael Aaronson, former Director General of Save the Children UK )

Professor Robert Cassen, London School of Economics

"In this impressive new study, Riddell has surpassed even his distinguished Foreign Aid Reconsidered. It includes a rare and much-needed analysis of emergency and voluntary assistance. Complete and authoritative, the book will have a long life as the definitive account of its important subject."

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1439 KB
  • Print Length: 540 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0199544468
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (19 April 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0071JTGZS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #444,095 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do You Really Want to Understand Foreign Aid? 20 Jan 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There are lots of books available on and around the subject of foreign aid. As a layperson wanting to better understand this complex and contentious subject I think it is a question of being careful what you read.

'Does Foreign Aid Really Work?' provides a comprehensive and impartial overview of the subject.

I found this book extremely interesting, thought provoking and well constructed.

If there is anything less positive to say it might be that, if you are looking for a light read to 'dip into the subject', this may not be for you. However, I believe that taking this approach would be a false economy in terms of spending time reading some less comprehensive and perhaps partial alternatives.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Balanced, packed with information, unusually dry 29 Oct 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Riddell's book asks the question: during the last 60 years of foreign aid, has the aid accomplished its purpose? Has it made tangible differences in the lives of other people, and to how large a degree has it done this efficiently? Riddell answers this question by compiling many dozens of investigations of this question over the years, and he approaches the question from many different directions in order to obtain a balanced perspective.

The most notable feature of the book is Riddell's ability to never jump to conclusions. There are few "hard" conclusions in the book, rather Riddell constantly weighs evidence for and against every topic. As he also points out, foreign aid is not a fixed concept, but rather a great many different things. The first 150 pages of the book, actually, consists mostly of a survey of the different forms of foreign aid given, as well as the motivations of governmental and non-governmental organizations for giving aid. In general, Riddell has a very balanced and thorough manner of investigating the world of foreign aid, and he certainly makes it clear that whatever the answer to his main question is, it is certainly not a simple "yes" or "no".

While this thorough manner is laudable, it also in a sense becomes the stumbling block of the book. Riddell's book is possible among the driest, and frankly, most boring books that I have ever read. Through the 400-page dense academic prose, there are only a handful of graphs and tables. Precisely because so many of the answers to questions about foreign aid are not cut in stone, graphical representations of real data instead of references to a plethora of papers would have made the text both more accessible and more lively.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book review 9 Sep 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Although an extremely comprehensive "heavy" academic style book it is written in a way we should all be able to understand. A must read for all involved or interested in alleviating poverty and "development"
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnum Opus of Aid 30 Mar 2010
By Ethan
Riddell weaves together a very ad-hoc and tattered subject spanning local charities, celebrities, governments and global enterprises; to give the reader a view of the state and direction of Development and Charity Aid. Not only are we lavished with a historic view backed by facts and figures, but we are also made aware just how naive we are about poverty. In many ways we are the Columbus to "discover" a new continent, when others have been there and done that. Poverty and Aid as it seems are old acquintences.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Review of Development Literature! 28 Dec 2009
By foodieman - Published on
Riddell has done an excellent job to update his earlier work - Foreign Aid Reconsidered (a seminal work) to include the massive changes in aid that have occurred in the past 20 years, especially the shift to NGOs.

His depth of knowledge, both firsthand and theoretical, of development is clear from the very start. It is clearly a very, very well researched book.

The question he aims to answer is obviously huge, and he makes it quite clear that there are no yes/no answers. He deftly avoids over-generalizing, but does an incredible job to work with the limited and biased data that exists on development.

The greatest strength of the book is really as a massive, 500 page literature review. He is able to sum up, in a very readable way, the major debates on development's efficacy. In the end, he presents a very well thought out normative set of suggestions on how to fix many of the problems he highlights about aid - a refreshing piece of concrete steps (which he admits readily are only the framework, and subject to much debate). Yet I think it's very important to point out that, despite his catchy title, this is not your run of the mill, "How to End Poverty in 10 Years With MicroHydro" book. This is a scholarly work that looks at all aspects of aid, even though it seems aimed at a wider audience. There are no easy answers, but Riddell's analysis is penetrating.

Overall, its an excellent piece of critical development scholarship, and comes highly recommended for anyone interested or involved in development, from NGOs to academia. He plows through the numerous, unfounded myths that go both for and against aid through detailed reasoning and evidence. He avoids the trivial, surface level problems and goes straight to the systemic contradictions of aid.

If I was to sum up the message of the book in a few words - and answer the question of the title - it would be that, to Riddell, aid is working, but not nearly as well as it could.
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