Unity in Diversity: A Global Consensus on Choosing the IMF’s Managing Director—Evidence from CGD’s Online Survey - Working Paper 267

September 15, 2011
Related: Lawrence MacDonald on Lagarde's first speech and Nancy Birdsall's on fixing the selection process.

On May 19, 2011, the Center for Global Development launched an online survey of the global development community on three issues: the selection process for the IMF’s managing director, criteria for rating the candidates, and actual ratings for 15 candidates who had been named by the international media. Between May 19 and June 23, CGD received 790 responses from people whose characteristics reflect the diversity of the international finance and development community. Survey participants represent 81 nations, all world regions, high-, middle-, and low-income countries, and all adult age groups.

In this working paper, David Wheeler analyzes the survey results, incorporating the diversity of the respondents by dividing participants into four mutually exclusive assessment groups: Europeans, who have a particular interest in this context; non-European nationals of other high-income countries; and nationals of middle- and low-income countries. Although the participants are diverse, their responses indicate striking unity on all three survey issues.

First, both European and non-European participants reject Europe’s traditional selection prerogative by large margins, with equally strong support for an open, transparent, competitive selection process. Agreement with an open process characterizes 92 percent of respondents from low-income countries, 90 percent from middle-income countries, and 84 percent from high-income countries.

Second, participants exhibit uniformity in the relative importance they ascribe to CGD’s six criteria for selecting candidates. The highest overall weight goes to understanding of international monetary and capital market issues, followed by experience with managing economic and financial crises; proven effectiveness as a manager; high-level political and diplomatic experience; high-level international organization experience; and banking and finance experience.

Third, the participants exhibit striking consistency in rating the fifteen candidates. The survey asks participants to rate each candidate on each of the six selection criteria, with a four-point scale. Using a variety of scoring methods, Wheeler finds a robust division of the candidates into five tiers, three in each tier. Christine Lagarde, the new managing director of the IMF, is consistently in the highest tier.

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