Discussion of the Washington Consensus has long been contentious. Partly this reflects a lack of agreement over what is meant by the term, in face of the contrast between the broader and narrower definitions. But there are also substantive differences involved over the merits and consequences of the various policy prescriptions involved. Some critics take issue, for example, with the original Consensus's emphasis on the opening of developing countries to global markets, and/or with what they see as an excessive focus on strengthening the influence of domestic market forces, arguably at the expense of key functions of the state. For other commentators, the issue is more what is missing, including such areas as institution-building and targeted efforts to improve opportunities for the weakest in society. Despite these areas of controversy, a number of developmental institutions and economists (such as Joseph Stiglitz) would by now accept the more general proposition that strategies best work if they are specifically designed to the certain circumstances of the individual countries.
A 2010 paper by Nancy Birdsall , Augusto de la Torre , and Felipe Valencia Caicedo likewise suggests that the policies in the original consensus were largely a creation of Latin American politicians and technocrats, with Williamson's role having been to gather the ten points in one place for the first time, rather than to "create" the package of policies.