Consulting firms in global health: The case of WHO reform

How do consulting firms influence global health politics? In this seminar, Assistant Professor Tine Hanrieder will present research on consulting firms' role in WHO reform and discuss how it raises new questions about WHO's convening power.

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Photo: Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo 

A light breakfast will be served.

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Consulting firms diffuse neo-managerial norms in global politics. Yet, consultancies are not mere carriers of world cultural norms. They organize contentious processes of institutional change. Based on research conducted jointly with Julian Eckl (University of St. Gallen), Assistant Professor Tine Hanrieder explores the use of consulting firms in WHO reform.

Using varied ethnographic material, including a case study of Roll Back Malaria’s 2015 reform, this seminar discusses, first, how consultancies contribute to informalizing WHO governance and help establishing exclusive ties and non-transparent collaboration between the WHO secretariat, funders such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the contracted firms.

Second, this seminar will dwell on and conceptualize the distinct material practices through which the firms exert influence. Consultancies curate reform proposals, for example by paying selective attention to stakeholders and reform ideas, and package them creatively. They also actively promote reform proposals by taking space in meetings, or overloading decision makers with information at short notice.

Finally, while personal networks, ‘unbureaucratic’ donor funding, and lenient transparency rules tend to favor specific actors in the consulting process, consultancies’ self-effacement strategies impede public scrutiny of their activities. This research raises new questions about the changing face of WHO’s convening power in times of access capitalism.

About Tine Hanrieder

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Dr. Tine Hanrieder is Assistant Professor at the Department of International Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and a specialist on global health politics and institutions. She is the author of a monograph on the history of the WHO (International Organization in Time) and of articles spanning the areas of global health governance, global medical education, international relations theory, health security, and humanitarianism. She currently conducts research on the emergence of the community health worker role in North America, and on the governance of international nurse recruitment to Germany. Tine has received a Freigeist (Free Spirit) Fellowship for interdisciplinary research by the Volkswagen Foundation to rethink South-North learning in global health. Before joining LSE in 2020, she held academic appointments at LMU Munich and the WZB Berlin Social Science Center, and received her PhD from the University of Bremen. Tine also was a visiting scholar at the University of Sydney, the Centre de recherche médecine, sciences, santé, santé mentale, société/Cermes3, and Northwestern University.

About this seminar

Global Health Unpacked” is a seminar series that aims to bring together the global health community on a regular basis to critically discuss key debates in Global Health in informal and interactive seminars. Guest speakers (both from the University of Oslo and from other universities) will bring an original perspective to the topic and engage in a conversation with the audience.

With this forum, we also hope to facilitate exchanges and collaborations between global health researchers and students present in Oslo and foster interdisciplinary research. “Global Health Unpacked” is jointly organized by the research group Global Health Politics, Centre for Development and the Environment and the UiO Centre for Global Health.

Published Sep. 7, 2022 11:28 AM - Last modified Sep. 8, 2022 9:06 AM