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How the Aid Industry Works: The Politics and Practice of International Development, 2nd edition

Arjan de Haan
How the Aid Industry Works: The Politics and Practice of International Development, 2nd edition
ISBN: 978-1-955055-89-5
ISBN: 978-1-955055-98-7
2023/231 pages/LC: 2022038912
A Kumarian Press Book
"An indispensable primer on the 'aid industry' for anyone working in international development or conducting research on the topic. . . . Highly recommended." —Choice

Praise for the 1st edition:

"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."—Development Policy Review

"In a field dominated by one-sided pro- or anti-aid polemics, de Haan adds some much-needed substance by setting out the nuts and bolts of how aid actually works.... An invaluable introduction."—Duncan Green, Oxfam

"A much welcome volume that goes beyond 'whether' aid works to help us understand 'how' the aid industry works."—Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, The New School University


International development assistance—what Arjan de Haan calls the aid industry—continues to be critical for overcoming the world’s development challenges, perhaps more so than ever given the global realities of climate change and the Covid pandemic. But how does this industry actually work? What practices does it follow, and to what effect? De Haan addresses these questions, providing a concise introduction to the business of development.

This new edition reflects fifteen years of increasing complexity in the aid industry: heightened polarized debates about appropriate approaches; the involvement of new donors, such as China; adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals; the blending of public- and private-sector investment; tensions among charitable, political, and commercial considerations. The list goes on. De Haan incorporates these factors in a succinct overview that is an ideal introduction for students encountering the subject of development for the first time, as well as a handy overview for development practitioners.


Arjan de Haan is a senior program specialist at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).


  • Why Is Aid Contested?
  • Defining the Aid Industry.
  • Can the Aid Industry Let Go?
  • The Evolution of Development Studies.
  • Implementing Development Projects.
  • The Importance of Governance.
  • Cross-Cutting Themes.
  • What Works? And How Do We Know?
  • Ongoing Challenges.