Title

Explaining and Fixing the 'Weak Governance Curse' in Resource-Rich Least Developed Countries

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2014

Publication Title

Southern African Journal of Policy and Development

Volume

1

Issue

1

First Page

28

Last Page

43

Abstract

There is a resource boom in the least developed countries, including those in Southern Africa. In order to translate their resource wealth into positive development outcomes in the long run, these countries need to have strong domestic governance systems. Yet, governance indicators in resource-rich LDCs have stagnated or deteriorated in the last decades. We use a new institutional analysis with a focus on path dependence theory to argue that these countries are caught in a “weak governance curse”. Besides having inherited dysfunctional governance paths from past critical junctures, rent-seeking behavior associated with resource rents constitutes a major contemporary political economy obstacle to successful governance reform in these countries. Although these dysfunctional governance systems have become extremely resilient to change, we build a theoretical case as to why global regulatory mechanisms can serve as potential tools to provoke gradual feedback effects to disrupt this negative equilibrium.

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