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The Aid Trap: Hard Truths About Ending Poverty (Columbia Business School Publishing) Hardcover – August 31, 2009

10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231145626 ISBN-10: 0231145624 Edition: 1st

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The Aid Trap: Hard Truths About Ending Poverty (Columbia Business School Publishing) + Where Our Food Comes From: Retracing Nikolay Vavilov's Quest to End Famine + Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hubbard and Duggan, respectively dean and lecturer at Columbia Business School, make the case that current foreign aid and Third World projects—particularly in Africa—aren't working and that the developed world must rethink how it allots aid money. The authors dissect (and disagree) with the U.N.'s Millennium Goals strategy for attacking poverty, pet project of Jeffrey Sachs and a host of celebrities. They condemn the strategy as a charity trap, that perverts local economies and keeps corrupt leaders rich. The authors contend that poor countries can attain prosperity and self-sufficiency only if aid money goes to cultivating a functioning business sector. Microfinance, they say, is working but stops short; they propose something much more ambitious: a new Marshall Plan, an almost prohibitively daunting task given the vast differences among developing countries, the controls each puts on business and the input required from other developed nations. But the plainly stated thesis and the authors' willingness to confront conventional wisdom and examine and energetically attack the problem are refreshing and necessary. (Sept.)
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Review

Anyone who wants to end poverty should take seriously the powerful and provocative arguments of The Aid Trap. Even if R. Glenn Hubbard and William Duggan don't convince you to embrace their new Marshall Plan, you will come away with a deeper appreciation for the limits of charity, the dangers of top-down planning, and the importance of creating a vibrant and open business sector.

(J. Gregory Dees, Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship, Duke University's Fuqua School of Business)

R. Glenn Hubbard and William Duggan make a persuasive case that international aid flows have been grossly misdirected. In trying to do good, those in the developed world may actually have ended up doing substantial harm to the developing world. Hubbard and Duggan instead argue that aid flows should be redirected towards encouraging business and entrepreneurship. This is a timely and readable book about how to solve one of the most challenging problems of our time.

(Raghuram G. Rajan, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business)

The authors' willingness to confront conventional wisdom and examine and energetically attack the problem are refreshing and necessary.

(Publishers Weekly)

The Aid Trap is not about the failure of conventional aid but provides the outline of a solution that can work if taken seriously. It is that rare prescriptive book, and the world must pay attention.

(Muhammad Yunus, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize)

Glenn Hubbard and William Duggan's considered analysis of The Aid Trap adds a new and important dimension to the on-going development debate. This book, grounded in logic and supported by evidence, presents reasonable and sustainable steps that will move Africa forward.

(Dambisa Moyo, author of Dead Aid: Why Aid In Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa)

A few years ago, we in Mauritius set out to make it easier for our own people and foreign companies to do business in our country. The result has been far more prosperity for our people. Other countries want to learn from our experience. I am pleased to see that there is now a book that can help. The Aid Trap makes a strong case and offers concrete steps for countries not to rely exclusively on the aid world and join the business world instead. I hope this book has a wide impact on the minds, hearts, and actions of national leaders, multinational and local businesses, aid agencies, and concerned citizens around the world.

(Honorable Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister of Mauritius)

Offers a different and logical, if emotionally counter-intuitive, approach to foreign aid.

(Sarah Lynch Forbes)

The authors point to the burgeoning economies of China and India as evidence that thriving businesses are the key to ending poverty.

(Chronicle of Philanthropy)

The Aid Trap articulates a constructive set of ideas about how to reform foreign aid.

(Economist)

The Aid Trap does a good job of both highlighting problems with the current aid structure and prescribing solutions.

(Reuben Abraham Alliance Magazine)

The Aid Trap the well-entrenched myth that development aid willerase global poverty.

(d-sector.org)

[The Aid Trap] offers a refreshing perspective on the current effort to end world poverty.

(Bennett Grill African Affairs)

The Aid Trap is a concise, beautifully written, stimulating, profound, and up-to-date reminder to all of us who are deeply concerned as to just why our traditional aid programs continue to fail us.

(Joseph Keckeissen Journal of Markets & Morality 1900-01-00)
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Product Details

  • Series: Columbia Business School Publishing
  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; 1st edition (August 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231145624
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231145626
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #475,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By David F. Latta on November 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
There is much good to say for the excellent work in refocusing country development from Aid to Business which is unheard of in the dev/biz. But unfortunately, the authors solution, an applied Marshall plan, will fail. There is a huge difference between current Africa and 1948 Europe/Japan in their respective positions along the "development curve". This difference, as referenced in "The Aid Trap", was infrastructure, technical and business/experience resources but did not address differences in cultural development from tribal, political, ethical and religious perspectives.

Recently the U.S. and EU have effectively been cut out of Africa by China and to a lessor degree India. As Engineers and Constructors (E&C's) working with equipment manufacture/suppliers we cannot compete with Asia in Africa. This situation has been changing and we now have been reduced to technical goods and services limiting direct participation in the market. Africa is being exposed to Chinese business culture, especially second and third teams, rather than the highly developed business culture of the U.S. The Chinese are some 30-50 years behind in cultural development with significant corruption. All is not bad, however, Africa has benefited from Chinese built infrastructure (good but not great) projects at greatly reduced cost. The Ethiopian $500M Tekeze hydro electric project built by the Chinese for $300M is just one example. What developer wouldn't smile to have a constructor chop 40% off a feasible project with the same revenue.

Historically observing and experiencing country development first in Japan from the 1930's, then Korea and now China has shown the rate of growth is dependent on the cultural environment. Africa is being handicapped by Asia.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tony P on December 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I had a chance to read the book this past week and I am happy to say that I came away with a fresh perspective on how aid can be delivered to the very poor. While I cannot be sure of all of the success of the Marshall plan, I do appreciate and understand that private business development can lead to wealth. The authors argue that severe business restrictions are common elements of poor nations. The wealthiest nations generally have the fewest government restrictions on business formation, hiring employees, availability of credit, management and the least restrictions in the import and export of products.

I found it helpful to take a look at the Marshall plan as he outlined it in his commencement address to Harvard in 1947. His concern was that through war, the basic economic system of Europe had been shattered and his intention was to re-introduce an economic system into parts of Europe.

The best example I can think of is that of China and India. It seems that since their governments' relaxed business restrictions in the past 20ish years, wealth has increased for many.

The book goes on to talk about Bono, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet as people with great intentions but their methods of helping the poor has only resulted in extending poverty. Likewise, the UN provides traditional assistance such as digging wells for clean water. But the problem is that those who usually dig the well are well paid Europeans and Americans (among others) rather than helping to form a local business that hires local employees to dig that well.

In the end, the "give a man a fish, teach a man to fish" concept is in full focus and if you have an interest in looking at an alternative approach to aid to the poor and needy, this book will help.
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The book was very well edited and avoided becoming overly academic. The authors deserve credit for maintaining enthusiasm without losing the reader. A pleasant read for such a serious and intractable problem.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Wade T. Wheelock on June 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book opens with a scene at a prominent church near Wall Street. The congregation's regular prayers now include a mention of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals, a plan for substantially reducing global poverty and its crippling effects by the year 2015. Our authors' reaction? To denigrate this sign of the growing movement to greatly increase rich-country aid to poor countries as totally misguided. As the title, The Aid Trap, indicates, they see foreign aid, in fact, as a negative factor. R. Glenn Hubbard, dean of the Columbia Business School and a former chair of Pres. George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, and William Duggan, a senior lecturer at the school, certainly have the credentials to deserve a hearing in the current debate over how best to address the issue of global poverty. However, this book has two basic drawbacks. First, it is not as well written as it should have been, with many sections lacking clarity or documentation for factual claims. Second, this is an ideological tract pushing the faith of private business as the only savior of humanity. The authors throw in only an occasional nuance acknowledging the need for some government role in alleviating the plight of the world's poorest people.

Hubbard and Duggan argue that foreign aid funds a system of recipient government agencies and foreign non-governmental organizations that provide crucial goods and services, but which thereby crowds out the indigenous business sector. No private local well-drilling or transport companies can compete successfully where free money or aid workers from abroad are already on the job. However, a thriving business sector, they say, is the key to development.
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