Increased Private Sector Involvement In International Development Could Fragment U.S. Influence, Threaten Sustainability, Weaken Accountability

American Interest: Arrested Development
Alexander Wooley, director of partnerships and communications, and Jacob Sims, senior program manager in the Policy Analysis Unit, both with AidData

“…A balanced public-private sector approach toward international development offers an opportunity for immense good. … However, optimism for unbridled private sector-led international development should be cautious at best. We identify below three key likely consequences of its expansion. Fragmented Influence … Threatened Sustainability … Weakened Accountability … The sun may indeed be setting on U.S. governmental leadership of the international order. If the retreat becomes extreme enough, the growing influence of ‘free market’ development initiatives could open the door to an increasing array of less benevolent private sector actors with their own agendas. … Even if the worst-case scenarios never occur, unrestrained private sector influence in international development could undermine a global agenda that includes economic growth, social empowerment, [and] environmental protection. … Corporate and philanthropic aid groups will continue to pursue their missions as the size of their endowments or budgets permit, regardless of the scale of U.S. foreign assistance, presidential tweets, or congressional pushback. The question remains one of strategy. Does the U.S. government want to continue projecting its influence and core values overseas? If the answer is yes, it must continue to invest globally” (11/28).