Words and Deeds: Foreign Assistance Rhetoric and Policy Behavior in the Netherlands, Belgium, and the United Kingdom

Alternative hypotheses involving self-interested versus benevolent motives have played an important role in the study of foreign assistance policy behavior. Most often, such studies infer motives from data regarding the foreign assistance expenditures of a donor state. This study moves beyond such inferences. First, donor self-interest can take different forms that are likely to be expressed in different policies. Second, inferences about motivation derived from aid expenditure data infer motives from the observation of actions only. This study seeks to address both points. First, it proposes a typology of aid motivation. Second, it proposes separate indicators of motivation and behavior. The proposed national role conception framework hypothesizes that certain motivations, as expressed in rhetoric, and certain behaviors, as expressed in the foreign assistance expenditures, co-vary. The study focuses on the foreign assistance debate in and policy behavior of the Netherlands, Belgium, and the United Kingdom. It finds that there is a congruence between the rhetoric and policy behavior of the foreign assistance decision makers of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, but that the Belgian data lack such congruence.