Abstract

The landscape of multilateral development finance has changed dramatically in the past decades. At Bretton Woods, delegates envisioned the World Bank as the focal organization mobilizing financial support for national development strategies. Today, this issue area is populated by no less than 27 multilateral development banks including the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank created under Chinese leadership. This paper shows that, des- pite this institutional proliferation, the development finance regime remains largely coherent and core governance features designed at Bretton Woods continue to shape the emerging regime complex. We develop a historical institutionalist argu- ment for why newly created institutions are likely to imitate extant institutions. We suggest that states add new institutions not only in response to deficiencies in extant institutions but also to increase their control and reputation. We analyze three causal pathways – path-dependence, orchestration, and independent learning – that contribute to a coherent regime complex. We show that focal inter- national organizations can use their position to prevent incoherence.

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