The Emperor's new clothes: A moral tale for development experts?

Helen Hintjens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


While global problems of poverty, inequality, and social upheaval are on the increase, the language used by development agencies and development experts sounds increasingly radical and idealistic. New socio-political conditions have been borrowed from real contexts in the South, only to be re-imposed on Southern 'partners'. Notions like empowerment, participation, and governance are paradoxically enforced through top-down, external intervention. Hans Christian Andersen's parable of the Emperor's new clothes highlights the illusory nature of this re-packaging of development policies in the 1990s. One major difficulty is that micro- and meso-level socio-political conditionalities remain subordinated to macro-level economic liberalisation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)382-395
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopment in Practice
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1999


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