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How the Aid Industry Works: An Introduction to International Development

Arjan de Haan
How the Aid Industry Works: An Introduction to International Development
ISBN: 978-1-56549-288-2
ISBN: 978-1-56549-287-5
ISBN: 978-1-62637-275-7
2009/237 pages/LC: 2009017483
A Kumarian Press Book
"De Haan has a real talent for encapsulating large and complex topics in the span of a few pages and therefore manages to achieve near-comprehensive treatment within the covers of a modest-sized book. He is scrupulous in presenting all sides of an argument and succeeds in his desire to be as ‘neutral’ as possible on the many controversies surrounding the subject."—Development Policy Review

"In a field dominated by one-sided pro- or anti-aid polemics, Arjan de Haan adds some much-needed substance by setting out the nuts and bolts of how aid actually works.... This combination of literature review, analysis and hands-on experience provides an invaluable introduction."—Duncan Green, Oxfam

"In a field littered with hyper-optimism and hyper-pessimism about aid as a weapon to end global poverty, this is a much welcome volume that goes beyond ‘whether’ aid works to help us understand ‘how’ the aid industry works.... This is a must read before anyone forms an opinion."—Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, The New School University


How the Aid Industry Works provides a concise introduction to the business of development—to what aid practices are, and how they have evolved. Arjan de Haan also assesses the arguments of both proponents and opponents of aid and presents illustrative examples of actual projects and programs. Ideal for students encountering the subject of development for the first time, the book also serves well as an overview for development practitioners who want a handy reference covering the universe they inhabit.


Arjan de Haan is on the staff of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), where he heads the program Supporting Inclusive Growth. Dr. de Hann is coeditor of the Canadian Journal of Development Studies.


  • Why Is Aid Contested?
  • The Aid Industry Defined.
  • The Evolution in Thinking About Aid and International Development.
  • Development Projects: Rationale and Critique.
  • Hard-nosed Development: Reforms, Adjustment, Governance.
  • Country-led Approaches and Donor Coordination.
  • Development's Poor Cousins: Environment, Gender, Participation, and Rights.
  • What Works in the Aid Industry? What Doesn’t? How Do We Know?
  • Challenges for the Aid Industry in the Twenty-First Century.