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Urban Studies Research
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 301068, 14 pages
Review Article

The World Bank and the Building of Local Institutionality in Senegal: A Path toward Municipal Adjustment

1Institute of African Studies, Carleton University, 228 Paterson Hall, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1S 5B6
2Department of Geography, Centre de Recherche sur les Innovations Sociales (CRISES), Université du Québec à Montréal, CP 8888, Centre-Ville, Montréal, QC, Canada H3C 3P8

Received 13 November 2012; Revised 25 June 2013; Accepted 25 June 2013

Academic Editor: Joris Hoekstra

Copyright © 2013 Mebometa Ndongo and Juan-Luis Klein. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper examines the impacts of municipal adjustment strategies on territorial governance in Africa, with specific reference to Senegal, as the result of the action of the World Bank. The paper identifies the process through which the World Bank is reconfiguring the system of actors and changing the local institutional environment to embody its philosophy of governance modernization. The paper shows how the local actor is brought to contribute to the new focus on governance and the reshaping of local institutions, which together comprise a type of urban development that aligns with the tenets of globalization.

1. Introduction

This paper focuses on the governance model crafted by the World Bank (hereafter referred to as “the Bank”) for Senegal which involved the implementation of a variety of urban development projects. The activities of this model have an impact on the existing organizational dynamics within a given territorial context and are designed and deployed in keeping with the development paradigm adhered to by the Bank [1]. This deployment creates favourable conditions for a western type of institution building, namely, in that it makes local actors a driving force of the aforementioned building.  By replicating external policies and implementing development projects conceived by the Bank, these local actors participate in the creation of spaces where a new institutional geography is instituted and mainstreamed to conform to the western neoliberal ideology.

More specifically, the new local institutionality ([2], page 215) took shape as a result of the implementation of the Bank’s municipal adjustment processes and the territorialized version of its structural adjustment programs. As has been well documented, the latter are more likely to disrupt historically anchored politicoadministrative structures than to achieve their purported purpose of improving the living conditions of citizens. In this paper, we demonstrate the dramatic negative impacts of this governance model on the basis of eight interrelated urban projects launched from 1972 on. A close reading of documented facts issued by the Bank and write-ups associated with these projects make it possible to map out the evolution of resulting transformations.

Section 2 of the paper outlines the research problem and provides a synthesis of the criticisms formulated in the scientific literature about the Bank’s development projects. Section 3 highlights conceptual references that focus on an analysis of the process of institution building embodying the application of the Bank’s projects. Section 4 addresses the research methodology. Section 5 shows how municipal adjustment steered the new governance implanted in Senegal. Section 6 addresses the developmentalist configuration used by the Bank to “graft” a form of local governance based on an embedded Western model in order to achieve its development objectives without having to face socioterritorial and administrative constraints [3]. In this section, we also lay out the local institutionality process and put forward a model for institution building garnered from the inspiring outcomes of this new form of governance.

In all, the paper will show that this new institutionality building was forged/induced through interventions that favoured the destatization and municipalization of governance [4]. Based on factual documents that inform and describe the institutional impact of the projects, we then show how the Bank, alongside the accompanying global trends, transforms local space and succeeds in reconfiguring traditional civil, private, and community structures in Senegal. We also show that, if, a priori, global forces prove to be a deciding factor, the local is not just a victim. This finally creates a “glocal” dynamic, understood as a seamless merger of the global and the local [5], in which ideas in favour of globalization intersect with those emanating from the local configurations to generate the new institutionality, where the global cannot be considered from the start as the only dominant force. We then present the administration and management practices that emerge from this dynamic and that characterize the new governance. We will argue that this transformation takes place through the simple superimposition, that is, “grafting” [6], of a Western type of local governance onto the traditional governance model with the goal of implementing a Western type of operative efficiency. In other words, a governance is transplanted without grounding and embedding it in the local culture, hence without the necessary legitimacy for its effectiveness and subsequently without success. Our arguments draw from the vast body of literature that addresses neoliberalization as a transformative tool targeting a variety of domains dealing with institutions, development, and governance [7], as a process whose delineation can be discursive to address multisector, multifaceted, and multiscalar dynamic perspectives ranging from the global to the local [811] and as a strategy depending on approaches and goals [12, 13]. It is well known that local structures are affected by neoliberalization. However, the grafting angle which this paper highlights will make an original contribution to the understanding of how this takes place in African countries, where traditional social structures and social hierarchies are very predominant at the local level.

2. Research Problem: The Global in Local Institution Building

How has the World Bank instituted a process of institution building in Senegal in order to establish a local governance context in which the country is constrained to conform to the Bank’s modes of actions and values? We frame this question and the related research problem by means of an analysis of the Bank’s urban projects, a breakdown of the discourse within the Bank’s knowledge network on urban development in Africa, and criticisms targeting the Bank.

2.1. The World Bank: Taking the Lead in the Rebuilding of African Institutions

Since the 1980s, when the Bank’s activities focussed more on development, the Bank has moved to targeting mainly institutions. A more effective institutional action was purported to emerge from the concepts of strengthening, restructuring, privatization, structural adjustment, and capacity building [1419]. The Bank tests its hypotheses in southern countries, where local actors are constrained to adopt these strategies [2022]. The resulting local-global confrontation consequently turns out to be a contradictory, divergent, and paradoxical space that produces the new local institutionality. In that context, institutionality, which represents the final stage of institution building, is defined according to the following five criteria:(1)technical capacity: the ability to deliver technical services that are innovations to the society at an increasing level of competence;(2)normative commitments: the extent to which the innovative ideas, relationships, and practices for which the organization stands have been internalized by its staff;(3)innovative thrust: the ability of the institution to continue to innovate so that the new technologies and behaviour patterns it introduces do not remain frozen in their original form and that it continually learns and adapts to new technological and political opportunities;(4)environmental image: the extent to which the institution is valued or favourably regarded by society; this can be demonstrated by its ability to (a) acquire resources without paying a high price in its change objective, (b) operate in ways that deviate from traditional patterns, (c) defend itself against attack and criticism, (d) influence decisions in its functional areas, and (e) enlarge and expand its sphere of action;(5)spread effect: the degree to which innovative technologies, norms, or behaviour patterns for which the institution stands have been taken up and integrated into the ongoing activities of other organizations ([2], page 215).

The institutional question extends into governance given that it affects the actor system [23, 24] and the way in which these actors interact and carry out their activities on territories that present, additionally, a strong divide between endogenic and exogenic forces (in the context of systems and actions, endogenic and exogenic allude to an action or object coming from within a system (endogeny) or an action or object coming from outside a system (exogeny)), that is, an imbalanced interaction between local and external forces.

Furthermore, the Bank’s development activities that have led to local institutional transformations embrace the neoliberal capitalist logic of which it has become an influential driver [1, 18, 19, 25, 26]. Moreover, “Another problem with the discourse of neoliberalisation is the question of historical chronology-different places experience neoliberalism differently over time. The problem is thus a spatio-temporal one” [27].

Thus, the paradigms associated with this reality have evolved not only through time and space but are closely aligned with a type of programming of the programmed society which channels actions that reinforce the economic dependence of, and developmental direction taken by, southern countries [28, 29].

With a focus on urban development interventions, the Bank maintains a type of discourse that, having evolved over time on the basis of physicospatial and politicoinstitutional priorities [30], constitutes the operational face of the progress-driven ideology advocated by the Bank and many international donors [14, 18, 19, 26, 31]. We are interested in the link between institution building and the Bank’s operational options. If these options have indeed influenced actor systems and restructured their activities, one can assert that a relationship has been established between the Bank’s action and the transformation of institutions at the local level.

2.2. The Legitimization of the Bank’s Discourse and Its Knowledge Network

When examining the dynamic into which the Bank anchors its macroeconomic and geopolitical framework, it is evident that since the 1970s, the Bank has taken a neoliberal approach to development, which then took hold in the 1980s following implementation of the structural adjustment programs. By putting in place the subsequent milestones to this approach, a trend toward privatization emerged in which local and civil society have a certain role. However, in Africa, this only applies to institutions built for this purpose, given that the traditional African local actor systems do not function according to neoliberal-tinged values and practices. Nevertheless, the neoliberal approach does open up an opportunity for strengthening the municipal actor. If the structures upholding these neoliberal values are part of a knowledge network made up of researchers and institutions who advocate the new values for governance (fight against corruption but also accountability, stability of governments, and effectiveness of public authorities), this knowledge network may be seen as legitimizing the Bank’s philosophy regarding urban development, as it ensures that these new values are implemented at the local level.

The knowledge network able to scientifically legitimize the Bank’s urban development action is composed of its own experts based in Washington, its former experts working in international institutions or in universities, and Western researchers promoting themselves as specialists of African urban development issues [4]. While there is unanimity within this network on certain points, such as operationalization of approaches versus procedural aspects, divergence exists on the factors that motivate the initiation of projects, the factors that contribute to their evolution, their internal and external institutional environment, and the Bank’s role with regard to the dynamic of its interventions (by highlighting the contexts for local and external interventions, exposing the factors of the Bank’s intervention dynamics [4], these different options are set within debates on institutional development; on the success or failure measured using effectiveness and performance indicators [32, 33]; on the contextual and learning-by-doing perspectives of learning, [34]; on alternatives to current approaches in international development [3537]; and the Bank’s hegemony with regard to imposing the neoliberal capitalist paradigm [18, 19, 26, 38]). Nevertheless, although the authors belonging to the Bank’s supportive knowledge network do not always share the same opinions, the points that unite them constitute the ingredients of a new local institutionality.

These ingredients are framed by multiscalar (international, regional, municipal, and microlocal) data showing that territorialized governance is emerging as a common denominator. The local institutionality resulting from the Bank’s actions on urban development translates into the type of governance whose local and global dimensions influence one another in a context where globalization takes the lead, and this governance is built from local realities [3942].

2.3. Critical Analysis of the Bank’s Action

The options of the Bank and of the network of knowledge which gives them scientific legitimacy have been the subject of debates and numerous criticisms. The criticism generally highlights that the results fall far short of the forecasts [25] and that the projects actually exacerbate poverty due to the out-of-control urbanization and urban density they engender [43]. Thus, the projects are actually worsening the very problems they were intended to solve. Furthermore, at the macroeconomic level, it is clear that structural adjustment programs have opened the way to privatization while weakening state authority [16, 25, 4446]. Consequently, centralized state control also weakened, namely, for the benefit of an imposed globalization, bringing into play municipalities and local groups with a weak grounding on the institutional front and considered as less legitimate by a population accustomed to traditional forms of local governance.

The Bank’s role in Sub-Saharan Africa’s urban development is analyzed within the context of its dynamic, in existence since 1986, within the framework of the New Urban Management program [4749] and from the prescriptive angle (of projects) and the local impacts of its different interventions. The research literature of the last forty years points to the Bank’s role as a main driver of neoliberalism [50], a role played out at several levels. The Bank steers institutions through project inputs and, during project implementation, plays the role of mentor in manoeuvring various local resources and in involving the population. A posteriori, it takes control of outputs in order to maintain its hegemony over its national partners. Whatever the form taken to exercise this role, one constant emerges: the Bank’s capacity to interfere in national governmental activities and to reorganize state structures [18].

Our framework for thinking through the Bank’s role in Africa’s urban development is inspired by perspectives related to institutional development and collective action [23, 32]. Based on these perspectives, we identify three types of action figures: the Bank, the state, and “the others,” who include the private sector, civil society, and the community. Whether or not an actor is excluded or included in a given urban development process depends on the targets used to define the Bank’s role and concern governance rules, procedures, methods, and structures.

Recognized as the first international actor for urban development in Africa [51], the Bank plays a paramount role in the development of urban policies. It defines priorities, prescribes regulations, establishes project objectives, and imposes theoretical and organizational frameworks outlining project interventions and operationalization [52]. Thus, the Bank redefines and transforms government actions concerning urban development [18].

The Bank’s role in African urban development becomes especially manifest through prescriptive directives. The resulting confrontation between the developmentalist configurations evokes a constantly evolving discourse and significant changes in the city that has a direct impact on governments [53]. Although the policies developed by the Bank are tailored to the countries, they are first and foremost part of its neoliberal philosophy. This gives rise to the Bank’s role of assistance to ensure effectiveness of the projects it implements [54]. In this context, schemes are put into place to raise funds and create the capacity to build the necessary infrastructure for providing services [55].

The financing of programs and technical assistance for operations go hand in hand when it comes to, for example, infrastructure, land, residential, or institutional development. The Bank’s dual role as both financier, especially as a donor to states, and as a strategist of their development has always been questioned [5658].

The Bank then appears as a builder of socio-spatial configurations and physico-morphological structures. Aside from its role as mediator between urban development actors in Africa at the vertical and the horizontal scales, both within the countries where it intervenes and at the international level, the Bank works toward building local institutionality. This is where it assumes its intellectual role of creating the ideas that underlie the policies and that foster knowledge creation. It then positions itself not only as an actor and an agent of change in development but also as an organization that replicates, spreads, and popularizes ways of doing things and that implements values [4]. The analysis of the Bank’s role in Africa’s urban development shows how different centres of interest complement one another in an effort to create a framework of milestones to be reached by a local system of governance geared toward globalization. The role of the Bank in urban development of Africa takes several trajectories. The Senegalese case will enable us to unveil their theoretical and strategic basis.

3. Conceptual Approach of the Research

The type of institution building at the local level triggered by the Bank requires that imported regulations and values be adhered to even if these go counter to the local cultural and territorial identity. In that sense, this type of development is far removed from the type of social movement that places emphasis on the importance of space and place [5961]. As formulated by the critique of the actions taken by the Bank, this all points to an institutional neoliberalization that challenges and unravels the local reality. Neoliberalization has spatial and, above all, institutional consequences [7, 9, 12]. Notwithstanding its proximity to globalization, its historical mutations confer it a local reach that is increasingly incontestable, which renders it vulnerable with regard to the local force and values dominated by the culture. Moreover, in reference to “local neoliberalism,” neoliberalization produces institutional forms relative to its ideological character. In this way, as an ideological movement, neoliberalization applies strategies, mechanisms, and processes aimed at the transformation of power structures by pulling the operational levers of NPM.The New Public Management (NPM) approach was a key vehicle for the realization of the neoliberal state […] the approach is characterized, by among others, disaggregation or corporatization of  the public sector; private sector management styles; discipline and frugality in resource allocation and use; and an emphasis on outputs […] the public sector which operates along these principles is virtually indistinguishable from the private sector. Furthermore, the emphasis on economic norms and values suggest [sic] that the citizen is reincarnated as homo economicus, and is governed in economic terms.In terms of state institutions therefore, at the local level, financial viability becomes an overdetermining factor. The optimization of profits (surplus) and the minimization of costs, in a phrase, conventional neoclassical economics, informs practice […] a spatial fix is needed to ensure that the process continues and the system does not fall into crisis […] as in the private sector where value is generated off labour, in the sphere of production, in the public sector, a similar process occurs in the sphere of consumption as the poor are used to generate a surplus […] the NPM is the mechanism through which neoliberalism is articulated at various scales of governance ([27], pages 137-138; 143-144).

The authors who oppose NPM challenge us to look beyond and to apply ethical standards to the actions and behaviours that take place within management structures ([62], pages 32-33, [6365]). They point to the persistence of poverty, inequalities, imbalances, distortions, marginalization, and polarization to criticize the economic and socio-spatial outcome of this management style. In that perspective, the critical arguments against NPM are:(i)the market remains, as it has always been, a flawed alternative to the state;(ii)the evidence on efficiency gains is limited and ambiguous;(iii)increased managerial autonomy has brought blurred accountability and higher risk;(iv)the introduction of competitive principles has turned public organizations into conflictual rather than collaborative bodies;(v)there has been a considerable demoralization of the public workforces;(vi)in several cases, public services have manifestly gotten worse rather than better ([66], page 8).

Given that this reality represents a historical construct stemming not only from African tradition but also from colonization and decolonization, the governance advocated by the Bank remains incompatible with local expectations. It is only by buttressing certain local actors who can be aligned with the Bank’s objectives that the operationalization of the new governance model becomes in any way possible. To reach the local institutions, neoliberalization takes the path of privatization of resources, activities, procedures, and services. From that point of view, it has restructured the state. The reforms initiated in this perspective were implemented among others through the structural adjustments. The interactions between the protagonists then highlights the new actors.

The concept underlying this process is one of “grafting,” as discussed in the introduction [53]. This concept delineates how innovation comes from cross-breeding, hybridization, and syncretism. This groundbreaking statement is neither puritan nor a “copy-cat” but rather leans closely toward institutional and cultural change that leads to the unexpected and the unpredictable. A graft can be analyzed from the perspective of its constitutive elements, namely, the techniques, the knowledge, and the modes of organization. Generally, one analyzes components of grafting based on copied local forms of adaptations and on the organizational techniques, knowledge, and models in place [53]. In this context, the endogeneity and exogeneity are held together by connectors between existing and emergent archetypes. Through the actions of current actors, this culminates in a degree of inter-connectedness between local cultural systems and imported systems, which are then expected to coexist in a dynamic organizational transformation.

Sometimes, this grafting process is achieved on a large scale through joint ventures or through acquisitions and mergers with other organizations. At other times, the grafting consists of smaller-scale actions, such as the hiring of an individual, or group of individuals, who possess the knowledge currently lacking in the organization. The practice of grafting calls on organizations to increase their store of knowledge by recruiting employees or by acquiring firms or organizations (or building long-term alliances with them) in the possession of information not previously available within the organization ([6], pages 1080-1081).

In the remainder of this paper, we will use this concept to analyze the new attributes set within the jurisdiction of municipal and local actors. The concept of grafting will enable us to see that these attributes, in spite of their complexity and intersectorality, allow the actors to adapt their activities by adopting new ways of doing things to generate other forms of territorial systems of governance [67]. Thus, adjustment spaces are put in place to facilitate the operation of neoliberalism.

As an offshoot of organizational dynamics, governance operates within a geospatial framework wherein its on-the-ground deployment of urban development activities are structured according to capitalist, neoliberal-tinged schemes that promote the interaction of actors [68]. Are we witnessing the establishment of a remote-controlled “glocal” governance in Africa [69]? It is thus in the framework of glocalization, that is to say, at the intersection between the local and the global, that we situate this effect.“Glocalisation” refers to the twin process whereby, firstly, institutional/regulatory arrangements shift from the national scale both upwards to supra-national or global scales and downwards to the scale of the individual body or to local, urban or regional configurations and, secondly, economic activities and inter-firm networks are becoming simultaneously more localised/regionalised and transnational. In particular, attention will be paid to the political and economic dynamics of this geographical rescaling and its implications [70].

According to Swyngedouw, it is the usage of  local material and resources that allows globalization to operate. In that perspective, we will show that the interplay of actors emanating from the institutional restructurings is aligned with this logic of endo/exoconfrontation. As for civil society and the local actors—the focus of this article—we show the duality of the global and the local and the interdependence of these two scales.Relations between civil society groups may not end at city limits but may instead stretch into international and global space. The conditions in which urban citizens live and work are not only created locally, which means that their agency can be expected to stretch beyond the local level ([41], page 1884) […] “Glocal” products, owned by global owners and regulated by local actors are developing, forging new styles of “glocal” governance. This governance is based on the rule of law, through which global players own and manage infrastructure assets in various countries in just one portfolio ([68], page 2) […] the “local” and the “global” are deeply intertwined […] local actions shape global money flows, while global processes, in turn, affect local actions. […] the local and the global are mutually constituted, or so it seems ([5], page 137-138).

The challenges of financing projects, the ways in which they are pegged to specialized international funding agencies, and the involvement of global actors through contractual obligations explain the increased role and structuring impact of projects within the local institutional landscape.

4. Questions, Hypothesis, and Methodology

How was the institution building of the territorial context, which made it possible to redefine local governance, put into place? Which levers were used for this building? To answer these questions, we hypothesize that such building would not have been possible without the grafting of an organizational, action-based, and procedural technology. The technology in question is in a way the point of reference without which it is impossible to imagine the implementation of this type of territorial reconfiguration through the Bank’s urban development interventions and, even less so, the procedural mechanisms on which the municipal adjustment is based. According to this hypothesis, the reconfiguration of the local institutional dynamics in Senegal could not have materialized without a local input whereby the external actor proposes and the local actor applies the two interacting and intermeshing such that the instituted local governability conforms to the neoliberal (Western) culture. In a step-wise manner, the transfer stages are seen to permanently cement the highlighted developmental approaches into place. The juxtaposition of external and local cultural and technoscientific universes facilitates the reconfiguration of an institutional architecture to favour a new actor dynamic typology where local constraints are minimized.

The methodology for carrying out this reconfiguration comprises five stages.(1)An in-depth study of the eight projects serves as milestones during the four-decade urban intervention in Senegal uncovered in our close reading of the World Bank’s factual documents. We are thus able to ascertain how each project was conceived, which approaches were put forward, and what referential priorities were advanced in relation to the different evolving phases.(2)An examination of the scientific literature associated with the formal and informal evaluation of the urban interventions in Senegal. We are thus able to determine the place of the projects’ bilan, that is, its strengths, weaknesses, lessons learned (justification of results), and links with earlier and later projects, within the dynamic that characterized the trajectory toward municipal adjustment.(3)A study of socioinstitutional transformations using a transfer of developmentalist configurations based on international development paradigms to which the Bank adheres. We identify the external environmental factors reproduced in the local territory as well as the process that gave rise to a new local actor system.(4)An analysis of the local actors’ contribution to the conceptualization of the municipal adjustment mechanisms and operational strategies. We show the convergence between two different actor systems integrated in the developmentalist configurations that shape the new local system of governance.(5)Consultations with an urban development knowledge network are used to validate our interpretation of the local effects of the Bank’s action.

The Senegalese case study was retained due to its representativeness of the issues related to the Bank’s urban intervention. The projects analyzed were conceived as the phases of a pilot experiment to be applied throughout Sub-Saharan Africa [25, 31]. The selected period covers forty years of the Bank’s urban development projects in Senegal. The methodological tools used include the grids for empirical, interpretative, and theoretical analysis. The projects’ context, the management mechanisms, the bilan of the experiments, the objectives, and the operational strategies enable us to unveil the territorial changes as well as changes within the actor system, from one phase to the next. The structural environment, the operational learning, and the governability make it possible to examine the philosophy, the ideology, and the developmental paradigms integrated in the operational strategies, their local appropriation, and their impact on the structuring of a territorial system of governance [4]. The concept of grafting helps to illustrate the stimulation, the embedding, and the territorialization of the introduced local institution building.

5. The Bank’s Urban Interventions in Senegal: Inductive Vectors of the New Local Governance

The eight projects selected for this research targeted a variety of objectives in the fight against poverty and adopted sectoral orientations for urban planning and development. Together, these projects are representative of a demonstrably novel institution building process. At once characterized by the context, the management mechanisms, the bilan, the objectives, and the operational strategies, they incorporate the technologies and procedures designated for this construction. In other words, the development of these projects involves both the design and institutional deployment relevant to their implementation. The deployment of projects of this type then allows to reconfigure the systems in place. Thus, in this process, long-established, historically built local references are rendered obsolete, or even delegitimized, resulting in a new hierarchy of actors. We group the eight projects into five priority-based phases: physicospatial (1972–1981), politicoinstitutional (1984–1997), productive (1989–1997), municipalization (1997–2006), and municipal adjustment (in operation since 2006). These priorities are indicative of the main trajectory taken by these projects (Table 1).

Table 1: The World Bank’s projects and their approaches in Senegal by type of priority.

The physicospatial priority phase (1972–1981) responded to a socioterritorial context wherein the Bank’s urban development policies were applied for the first time while paving the way for future interventions. During this phase, a project called Sites and Services aimed at facilitating self-help construction, self-financing, accessibility, urban infrastructures, and urban services through a strategy of land development modernization. The party with whom the Bank interacted for this project was the government, and the stated project objective was poverty reduction. The project engaged in allocating residential sites and improving public services for low-income families. The Sites and Services project also involved the testing of international development funding schemes that had been used in other underdeveloped areas, such as Latin America, where government-run self-help construction on allotted sites had been experimented with in the 1960s [19, 26]. However, the project priority, while coherent with the Keynesian vision of intervention at the stage of local and regional development, gave rise to ways of occupying land that essentially failed to deliver long-lasting or satisfactory solutions for the poorest and most disenfranchised (as Duque and Pastrana [71] show with reference to the case of Chile, and Cohen [43] with reference to the case of Dakar).

Without seeking to advocate the position of the state as central actor in matters of local governance, the realization of this project created a transitory dynamic that forced the state to negotiate with actors it was not accustomed to dealing with, in particular the private sector. Already, it had to finance the housing through the households and no longer through the public sector. As the only actor, it directed and maintained the monopoly of the local policies and actions. The institutional map was thus characterized by a sole actor, complemented by specialized parapublic organizations, such as the Office de L’Habitation à Loyer Modique (OHLM) (Affordable Housing Bureau). In addition, a territorial polarization prevailed between the capital Dakar and Thiès. With regard to local governance, the external actors—the Bank, the International Development Association, and the United Nations Development Programme—remained omnipresent. Locally, these external actors were confronted with an institutional framework that included the government, the OHLM, the management of Sites and Services, and the municipal administrations of Dakar and Thiès. The pre-existing local structures were restructured and formalized such that traditional local actors associated with local chiefdoms, family, tribal, and religious associations were excluded from the dynamics of the projects. These actors were, however, able to remain active in the local socioeconomic dynamics.

The second priority phase (1984–1997), encompassing two projects, highlighted a change in direction. Centered on politicoinstitutional interests, this phase turned to institution building as its approach, with a main focus on housing, institutions, economic performance, operational effectiveness, resources, investment, and municipal management. Defined in more normative terms, its aim was to sensitize, even to create, awareness among local authorities for the importance of self-help management by the local actors and through privatization. The two new operationalized projects that we group under this priority are centered on, on one hand, technical assistance for urban management and rehabilitation and, on the other hand, municipal and housing development. The main concrete measure undertaken by both projects was housing construction, which was monitored within a larger testing framework that aimed to ensure proper urban management within institutional development. This measure triggered a trend where local, private sector, and civil society values are encouraged.

Moreover, the second priority phase of the institutional frame work no longer includes the OHLM (which had been operative in the Sites and Services project of the first phase) but the Senegalese Ministère de la Planification et de la Coopération Externe (Ministry of  Planning and International Cooperation). This demonstrates the institutional importance of the first project of this phase—Technical Assistance for Urban Management and Rehabilitation. Seven governmental and municipal structures ensure the management of the project, which represents five departments (The departments of the Economy and Finance, Planning and Cooperation, Equipment, of the Interior, and Urbanism and Habitat), three sectoral organizations, and the Communauté urbaine de Dakar (Greater Dakar Authority). In addition, some twenty local actors are involved, compared to only a dozen in the Sites and Services project. However, the decision-making powers in Dakarese and ministerial institutions continued to remain strongly centralized. For example, the public administrations were assigned the totality of tasks, while the decentralized instances, such as the Communauté Urbaine de Dakar (Greater Dakar Authority), the Direction des Collectivités Locales (General Directorate of Local Authorities), and even the Secrétariat d’État à la Décentralisation (Decentralization Secretariat), participated neither in planning nor in the programming of investments or in urban and housing policies. The decentralized administrations were under-represented in the Comité de Suivi (Monitoring Committee) and there was no indication whatsoever of the participation of the private sector. On the other hand, private firms were consulted in the framework of the technical assistance during each of the priority phases (among those, we distinguish: EPEVRY (project steering), CEGIR (urban investment programming), OTUI (urban development and housing policy), BCEOM (municipal policy), and LAFERRIERE (transportation policy)). Local participation remained a priority but was limited to the execution of tasks and was strongly regulated. In this way, the reconfiguration of the actors reflected the investments schemes and the planning and programming and allowed these same actors to act at the national scale. In parallel, the municipal policies were given a new dynamic through the creation of a municipally managed public roads office. In the mode of governance in place, the preparation and implementation of development projects were therefore delegated to local agencies who were not involved in the activities of the previous project. The new institutional measures thereby implemented became manifest in the governance mechanisms. As a spinoff effect, self-management becames primordial during the second project of  this priority phase, as did the amplification of the role of the local. The latter became more active with regard to the mobilization of financial resources, which was realized through the involvement of many local actors, even if some belonged to the public sector. The phase also involved the redefinition of the contractual clauses concerning areas such as reimbursement, intermediation, and technical aspects, all under the auspices of the Bank. On the whole, this second phase constituted a slow phasing out of the former focus on physical interventions.

The politicoinstitutional priority phase was complemented by two projects that we have grouped as the productive priority phase (1989–1997). Named AGETIP 1 and AGETIP 2, these projects were part of a job creation experiment in the urban environment and their main objective was the validation of the operationalization of urban management with productivity. The AGETIP projects were part of an approach aimed at creating jobs, fostering entrepreneurship and setting up small- and medium-sized enterprises. Emphasis was laid on a state-civil society mediation strategy that facilitated project start-ups and, in so doing, gave rise to a local hierarchy whose legitimacy was warranted only by its repercussion at the governmental level. What was particularly sought here was the creation of a stable, socially anchored municipal infrastructure development base for the municipalities. For this, efforts were made to promote individual competences, intensive work—where profits are given to local communities—and the development of management skills through the application of established guidelines from existing procedural manuals. In addition, the growth of local enterprises and the decentralization of governmental power was encouraged with the aim of privatizing the management of local-level development. In that context, the Bank also standardized its procedures to facilitate the assessment of the outcomes.

Amidst these strategic reorientations, the institutional landscape was additionally marked by the impact of  the structural adjustments, alongside all the other interventions of  the Bank. But what became important here was the place of the local level, manifested by the importance given to the role of civil society and community organizations, next to the private sector. The horizontal and vertical interaction then took place thanks to the intermediary actors, who became indispensable in the operational mechanisms. Emphasis was placed on recruiting local labour, involving youth in the operations, and on targeting small- and medium-sized businesses, above all industrial firms from residential housing construction. This is what resituated the framework of governance, assisted by the reconfiguration of structures that had been previously eliminated from the scene. By counting on the functioning mechanisms of these structures, the realization of public works such as construction, the refurbishment and maintenance of equipment, work organization and corresponding training in urban settings, and the supervision and followup of activities represented the fundamental components that led to the creation of an adapted structure called Agence Spéciale (Special Agency).

This agency has a particular legal status and a private mode of functioning. For example, it is not subject to the regulations, salary standards, or personnel policy of public services. As an independent institution (AGETIP 1), the Agence Spéciale intervened in the entire cycle of projects, as did the Bank. The innovation resided in the promotion of a local and private entrepreneurship. Centralizing urban development operations in the new institutional configuration, the Agence also participated in the selection of the consulting firms and subprojects. This period also saw the setting up of foundations and the solidification of institutional privatization, procedures, and resources. In the second stage (AGETIP 2), during which civil society took a more pronounced shape, AGETIP became more active in the socioinstitutional landscape, an approach that then became attractive at the national and international scale. During this period, municipal projects were stimulated and municipal development became a priority item. The trend was thus toward municipalization. In short, the institutional geography was from then on played out in the arena of the municipalities, who became the centre of gravity in a decentralizing dynamic. This triggered a strong trend toward destatization, which then called for a rescaling of many areas, be it the state, networks, the economy, institutions, governance, or the territory [70]. The period also saw a dynamic of deconcentration and nationwide coverage that targeted all small municipalities with adaptation mechanisms specific to their situation. Even when situating destatization in a logic of weakening of the state for the benefit of strengthening of the local, civil, and community capacities, these ideas were not new.The notion of a shift from government to governance at local and regional scales to describe a series of interrelated changes is now well accepted […]. The blurring of sectoral boundaries, particularly in terms of new forms of cooperation and interdependence between the public and private sectors, has been part of a “destatization” process whereby the role of the state has shifted from direct management to one of regulator, coordinator and enabler […]. In seeking to address how mechanisms of rescaling operate, […] the state and political strategy continues to play a key role in the development of new sites and scales of governance, with a recursive process of “filling-in” and “restatization” integral to processes of “hollowing-out” and “destatization.” By these related processes power is being transferred, in complex manner, to different tiers of the state in an active and contested process of new state formation. This approach focuses attention on the ongoing central role of the state and the processes by which rescaling are taking place within any particular temporal and spatial context. It also emphasizes how power operates through the institutional context and the asymmetrical power relations between networks. With the emergence of increasingly complex governance arrangements, power resides not in institutions but within networks […]. With respect to city governance, the state through its ensemble of institutions, especially those that perform a strategic role, continues to play a major role in activating and deactivating network connections and regulating which interests are included or excluded within governance arrangements ([72], pages 99-101).

The fourth priority phase (1997–2006) comprised a type of local urban governance that called on the municipalities to assume responsibility for the application of development policies emanating from decentralization. The decentralization gave the municipalities autonomy and allowed the actors to interact freely within the local communities. Two municipal/communal support projects (programs 1 and 2) were grouped into this priority phase. Program 1 encouraged municipal responsibilization, municipal development and reforms, municipal privatization, and municipal adjustment by means of deconcentration, that is, the transfer of certain state prerogatives and the empowerment of local administrations. Program 2 addressed issues of municipal finance, competitiveness, and cooperation to facilitate interaction between the local, national, and international levels. Recommended as part of an effort to strengthen urban management and increase production and an experimental effort at the outset, the program eventually stood out for its ability to face the challenges of decentralization by creating local structures that interacted to promote urban development based on local governance.

Concretely, the existing actors aligned themselves with new institutional arrangements. The mayors became more amenable to compromise with the government, the Agence de Développement Municipal, the municipalities, the Association des Maires du Sénégal, the Association des Communautés Rurales, the Agences de Gestion des Contrats Acceptées, the financial institutions, and the private sector (contractors, consultants, and beneficiary population). However, notwithstanding the presence of an agency delegated with the execution, coordination problems arose. By situating itself in the overall local urban framework, program 2 pursued the long-term goal of integrating the country’s 76 municipalities within the local urban governance, where they were then expected to evolve within an intermunicipal network. The outcome of earlier projects were linked to the projects of this priority phase, as they progressively led to greater local responsibilization and relevant municipal adjustments at the last stage of grafting a new local institutionality.

The final and fifth priority phase, underway since 2006, targets investment and municipal adjustment and is pursued with a project focused on the reinforcement and equipment of local communities. As the conclusion of the preceding phase, which prioritized the validation of municipal action, this project reinforces the implemented orientations of that phase. With a main focus on the municipality, it injects more enthusiasm in its decentralization efforts by building on earlier projects, reinforcing local capacity, improving municipal resources, encouraging the maintenance of municipally-financed equipment, and sustaining urban infrastructures.

To the extent that municipal adjustment aims for the implementation of modalities of territorial governance that are coherent with the global policies of the Bank, it appears as the territorialized version of structural adjustment. The implemented activities result from the normative measures that the Bank puts into place to promote urban development. Overall, the activities allow to channel the actions following different priorities and within the context of a programming that relies on the operational learning of approaches and projects.

6. Analysis: The Transfer and the Grafting of a Developmentalist Configuration

Contrary to the Keynesian, state-centered model that characterized the first priority phase, as outlined in the preceding section, the change of direction exhibited by the projects in the second phase demonstrated that the Bank adheres to a new paradigm that advocates a weakening of the state and a reinforcement of local structures. This change was made possible through three convergent actions, namely, the rescaling of power, the experimentation of municipal development, and the financing of programs. Overall, the projects promoted a rescaling of power [7375]. On the one hand, they conceived the local as a site for starting up private enterprise and, although embedded in an enlarged institutional framework, promoted a local orientation for managing the projects. Furthermore, operational strategies were supervised by a committee which gave a lot of space to local actors. The reinforcement of municipal authorities enhanced formal administrative bodies at the expense of traditional actors, such as village chiefs. Participation, privatization, consultation, collaboration of the target population, and technical assistance were all promoted, as well as integration of  institutional development to the physical intervention. On the other hand, certain global responsibilities, such as the coordination of donors, were given to international institutions. Management was set up so that an external and mixed framework could oversee the maintenance as well as the administrative and operational control of projects in terms of enforcing regulations, allocating resources, and repaying loans. Following this logic, the Bank plays the role of intermediation. The steps taken to relinquish certain global responsibilities and to reinforce local authority (municipalization) were essentially a move to disarm and weaken state power in favour of  building private capital, civil capacities, and a locally based administrative elite (destatization).

The phases of the Bank’s urban intervention in Senegal analyzed in this paper reveal a dynamic experimentation of municipal development. This dynamic is characterized by a breakdown, experimentation, and modeling that reflects the Bank’s intentions to foster municipal adjustment in Senegal. As a result, the municipal adjustment put into application in the last phase emphasizes investment, coordinated, and sustained interaction targeting the local population, intermunicipal relations, and coordination of donors. By municipal adjustment, we mean the ensemble of activities leading to the reinforcement of local structures, described as the governance and regulation framework applied by the Bank.

Concerning the financing of programs, the Bank has a hands-on approach to its operations that leaves little room for the recipient countries. The financing of programs, in amounts ranging from 60 per cent to 90 per cent of costs, is part and parcel of its stated objective relating to urban development in Africa. With regard to technical assistance, this role appears paramount because it reveals the relationship between Washington (the headquarters of the Bank) and its sites of operationalization. This position of the Bank involves defining the management approach and developing the environmental management and action plans. The operational aspect of  this phase requires the preparing of audits, the putting into place of monitoring and information systems, and providing education on environmental issues [51, 76, 77]. Given that the financing role is often pegged to infrastructure building and the provision of urban services, the Bank’s objectives entail a series of conditions, and these in turn set the basis for repaying loans, the criteria for selecting targets, the choice of on-the-ground actors, and the definition of how participating institutions should interact [51]. This places the Bank in a position of strength that allows it to impose the adoption of new practices which, framed as organizational efficiency measures, are essentially an integral part of the neoliberal ideology [43, 78].

The Bank intends to conceive and produce indicators that can be used to evaluate national and local actors with regard to project objectives, which, as discussed, are largely imposed by the Bank itself [78]. With this in mind, local policies can be formulated, especially concerning the participation of private-sector partners [50]. The public-private partnership is used as a strategy for promoting the active role of civil society organizations [79], a role played out outside governmental structures but that has a direct impact on local populations through the Bank’s backed-up policies [80]. Through the promotion of participation and partnerships, the Bank transforms democratic structures and the institutional dynamic.

When the Bank sets the priority guidelines for developing southern countries, it plays a role in territorial structuring, planning, and land development [81]. When it builds the interaction schemes between actors of the urban scene, its role in territorial and institutional governance becomes manifest through the implementation of new institutional and new systems of governance processes [82].

The growing influence of international development agencies has led to transformative changes in urban networks, down to their very fabric—one wrought with contradictions and conflicts. These transformative changes stem from inadequate material conditions that define periurban land rights, the infrastructure and the economy. This has given rise to the establishment of a polarizing planning system that produces winners and losers and that has failed to protect the poor from exploitation. The institution building of this system is intended to foster the hegemony of economic growth and global competitiveness, international markets, and global interests rather than resolving the problems of local communities. The best indicators for winners are access to resources and the right to own land. Urban structure and human agency represent the materiality of transformations triggered by globalization through international development agencies such as the World Bank with regard to urban development in Africa [52].

The institution building of local governance has been at the heart of the Bank’s urban development project dynamics in Senegal for four decades. In the first place, this building is guided by the milestones conceived by the Bank and which are pegged to environmental normativity. As this environmental normativity evolves like the Bank itself, the trajectory dictated by the nature of the projects studied remains independent of any history or local aspirations, and even less so of any colonial points of reference. The institutional building is brought about largely through the grafting of the developmentalist configurations preferred by this international institution which subscribes to a hegemonic agenda. In the second place, local governance is part of a transfer process whose ultimate purpose is to internalize the Bank’s approaches, endogenize the operationalization mechanisms which it has put into place, and ensure the enculturation of local institutions with its own values. National and local actors participate to meet an experiential learning requirement put together by a knowledge network that has legitimized the priorities advocated by the Bank. In the third place, this building is the result of interactive contacts between the Bank (its experts and representatives) and the political and economic actors of Senegal. These contacts are established in a context of inequality but where the exchanges nevertheless allow for reciprocal acquisition of technical knowledge and competencies stemming from the structural and social transformations of urban governance that make Senegal a laboratory. We witness the building of a local institutionality that embodies and makes possible the application of the Western neoliberalism to which the Bank adheres.

In that context, we conceive of  “procedural technology” as a set of techniques/tactics, mechanisms, strategies, and practices allowing to shape institutions and to reconfigure their profile in accordance with their priorities (physicospatial, politicoinstitutional, urban productivity, municipalisation, and municipal adjustment) and the corresponding actors. These actors act at the micro- and macroterritorial scales in the framework of glocalization such that the graft of each type of priority group produces another type of governance (Table 2).

Table 2: The building process of the new local institutionality in Senegal.

7. Conclusion

The objective of this paper was to show how a process of institution building was instituted by the World Bank in Senegal in order to establish a local governance framework that makes the country conform to the modes of actions and the values which it promotes at the global scale. It was shown that the four-decade-long urban intervention in Senegal by the World Bank resulted in the grafting of a form of local governance propped up by a transfer of the Bank’s developmentalist configurations.

The territorial embedding of new social hierarchies and the transfer of developmentalist configurations are at the crux of the local institutionality implanted in Senegal due to the establishment of urban development projects. The territorial framework of this new governance is possible thanks to the transfer and embedding of tested knowhow. The imposition of the Bank’s rationality and operational learning constitute the principal vectors of change. Moreover, the implementation of the rescaling process inevitably translates into a governance shakeup resulting in destatization, where the transfer of state responsibilities toward the local level is combined with the abandonment of certain global responsibilities to the benefit of  international institutions. The Bank’s developmentalist configurations are also replicated in Senegal by enforcing the transformation of a territorial actor system. Finally, the state-centered management has been weakened in the interest of localizing procedures and mechanisms for operationalizing development strategies. In all, this process helped put in place an enriched framework for setting up a new form of governance.

The complex developmentalist configuration on which the process is based is challenging to understand, and in that sense is keeping the Bank’s experts on their toes, as these are expected to address issues about its urban policies. Alongside these experts, field agents, technicians, and project managers were responsible for implementing the operations. A quasicosmopolitan universe, this configuration managed considerable amounts of material and human resources in the urban development of Senegal and is furthermore part of a technoscientific infrastructure for producing and testing ideas that can later be introduced into local realities. The logic behind taking action is part of the neoliberal culture imposed on the local environment. The universe of selective discourse and normalized regulation shapes and encapsulates the touted technical model which espouses the vocabulary of globalization. This is the basis on which activities framed around well-honed concepts are operationalized without any local constraints [3, 53]. In addition to this carefully crafted strategy, different projects were burdened by preconditions ranging from the macroeconomic environment to local taxation systems, the rule of  law, transparency and accountability of  local governments, public and political administration, the constitution, democracy, and the allocation of financial and human resources to ensure efficient international regulation. All of this captures the essence of the Bank’s ideological and paradigmatic framework which was grafted onto Senegal. The assimilation of these Western norms and rationales by local actors ensures the enculturation of this framework as well as the application of new technical, knowledge-based, and organizational models. It especially facilitates local adaptation through compliance with set developmental paradigms, which generally means a jettisoning of the methodologies and organizational modes already in place. The programming of activities inherent to these paradigms brings about changes in the territorial politicoadministrative fabric resulting from the confrontation between the exogenic and the endogenic. The grafting leads to a local appropriation of the developed approaches, to the incorporation of these approaches into the local institutional landscape, and to the state’s adoption of the regulations associated with the New Public Management model advocated by the Bank. The change produced in Senegal is a reflection of the harmonization of the development models imposed by international development institutions in developing countries. The NPM scheme transplanted into these countries is then used as a reference for the modeling of reforms in the public sector [83]. Whereas mimicry or imitation is mediatized through cultural adaptation mechanisms, administrative grafting is put in place through international agencies using development projects [84].

Herein lies the space where, far from a simple administrative reform, we witness the transfer of policies from the north to the south. Without alluding to a voluntarist (self-willed) programming scheme, a structured transformation can be seen through evolving and coherent priorities. Regulation is either programmed or imposed by applying paradigms that are built by international aid agencies and that arise from their developmental ideology. By incubating these ongoing concepts, the local actor contributes to this dynamic by reproducing and by applying the same concepts. In that context, vertical and horizontal interactions take place within systems of actors. In a transversal manner, the private sector, civil society, and community groups participate in the provision of services traditionally assumed by the state. These actors can then initiate and operationalize the urban projects. This is what redefines the role of the state. Another institutional typology emerges without the loss of  local values that are sufficiently anchored in the culture (sociofamily and spatial groupings, traditional, community and confessional associations). We are thus seeing the birth of a hybrid model between globalization and location. In that context, “Neoliberalism […] is playing a part in the reconstruction of extralocal relations, pressures, and disciplines […] as well as extralocal learning” [10]. Even though the public/private duality is at the centre of the institutional and territorial restructuring, new synergies emerge between communities and associations based on the internal and external values.

In summation, the contribution of this paper is to delineate the model of local hybrid governance as an outcome of the evolution of the Bank’s urban interventions in Senegal. This result arises not only from the top-down orientation of the Bank’s actions but also from the bottom-up dynamic at the local level. This also explains the glocal form of governance, as seen in the arrival of new actors, the emergence of new roles and responsibilities of those, and the manifestation of new institutional interactions. Avenues for future research include examining the permeability of the local and its zones of resistance, as well as the increasing strength of the local for restructuring the learning of the Bank.

Institution building is founded on concepts that support and sustain territorial embeddedness and the processes that are part of the conveyed knowledge acquisition and that conform to the developmentalist configurations of actors acting at the upper end of the development projects [53]. Future research should thus also include the exploration of the internal tasks of the institutions themselves, from both an interior and exterior perspective of the organizational environment, and of the societal dimension [3].


The authors would like to thank Professors Michael Alain Cohen, Richard Stren, Beacon Mbiba, and Otto Ikome for their comments and contributions to the preliminary versions of this paper.


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