By understanding local customs and concerns, they can better play the local political parties against each other. I think Geertz talks about this somewhere, although I think Geertz himself worked for some international institution like the IMF. His early work in Indonesia was funded in part by some of these organizations, if I read the credits to his early works right.
See, for example, _Geertz, Clifford, Peddlers and princes; social change and economic modernization in Two Indonesian towns_, Chicago, University of Chicago Press 
This is part of the Economic Development Case Studies series. The listings under this series are of interest to many on the list. For you econmist types maybe these titles mean something. Are they as insidious as they sound?
BTW I owe the insight about the political agendas of English and American anthropologists to my teacher, the great Native American anthropologist Alfonso Ortiz.
The Appraisal Of Development Projects : A Practical Guide To Project Analysis With Case Studies And / Michael Roemer, Joseph J. Stern 1975 Capitalist Development And Democracy / Dietrich Rueschemeyer, Evelyne Huber Stephens, And John D. Stephens 1992
The Case For Development; Six Studies. / With An Introd. By Philippe De Seynes 1973 Ciencia Y Tecnologia Para El Desarrollo : Informe Comparativo Central Del Proyecto Sobre Instrumento / Francisco Sagasti 1978 Contrasts In African Development : The Economies Of Kenya And Ethiopia, 1975-1984 / Paul B. Henze 1989 Decision Making For Economic Development: Text And Cases / [by] Gustav F. Papanek, Daniel M. Schydlowsky [and] Joseph J. Stern 1971 The Development Frontier : Essays In Applied Economics / Peter Bauer 1991 Development Planning In Mixed Economies / Edited By Miguel Urrutia And Setsuko Yukawa 1988 Development Projects Observed / [by] Albert O. Hirschman 1967 Development Strategies In Semi-Industrial Economics / Bela Balassa In Association With Julio Berlinski ... [et Al.] 1982 Dialogues On Development : The Individual, Society, And The Political Order / Ramashray Roy And R.K. Srivastava An Econometric Model Of Postwar State Industrial Development
Les Schaffer wrote:
> >> thats interesting. the World Bank has anthropologists on its
> >> staff??? what do they do? how do they influence policy, if at
> >> all?