Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Jon Shefner

Committee Members

Harry F. Dahms, Robert A. Gorman


This thesis is about the provisioning of development assistance, as a major component of foreign aid. Conventional approaches to the subject have tended to focus on the determinate interactions of discrete agents as the principle units of analysis. This necessarily obscures the functional role development assistance fulfills in relation to the global politico economic order, however. This study, by contrast, properly situates individual programs of development assistance as belonging to a much larger historical pattern, or system of coordinated politico-economic behavior. The objective, therefore, is to apprehend the systematic and functional interrelations existing (i) among the various agents engaged in the transfer of assistance, on the one hand, and (ii) between these institutions and organizations as an aggregate and the global order itself, on the other. ‘Regime analysis’ is utilized as the preferred method of analysis. The basis of the argument is that the regime for the provision of development assistance functions as a regulative-control mechanism, ancillary to the prevailing economic arrangements and relations within the global political economy. Altogether, I argue that regime apparatuses have been configured so as to (i) forestall cataclysmic instabilities in the global politico economic order, and (ii) to induce compliance among developing nations to the order’s organizing principles and-or logic. This is revealed in phases in the liberalization and-or illiberalization of access to external financing over different global-historical epochs and during periods and in contexts of either instability or stability. I find that during periods and in contexts of instability, development assistance has been initiated or expanded in geo-strategic ways so as to regenerate markets and, thereby, obviate, or thwart the anticipated metastasization of adversarial politico-economic organizational frameworks. During periods and in contexts of relative stability, conversely, I find that the provision of development assistance becomes contracted, or made less expansive, as well as increasingly driven by conditionalities. Consequently, the functioning of the regime structurally conditions the developmental orientations and prospects of peripheral nations and regions and, thereby, also contributes to the overall evolution of the global politico-economic order.

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