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Introduction: Civil Society, Public Debate and Natural Resource Management

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Introduction: Civil Society, Public Debate and Natural Resource Management

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This introductory chapter establishes the analytical framework for the edited volume. The literature on the resource curse and institutions is briefly discussed, along with the work on civil society and the public sphere by Almond and Verba, Dahl, Habermas and Putnam. Drawing on these classics, the theoretical concept of ‘public brainpower’ is formulated. The main pillar of public brainpower is polycentricity, or the coexistence of many different public actors freely expressing their thoughts: individual citizens, political parties, trade unions, charities, companies, research institutes, religious institutions, mass media and government institutions. The more polycentric a society is, the greater is its brainpower: its memory becomes more comprehensive and multifaceted, different actors can perform quality control of each other’s ideas and arguments, and it is more difficult to repress challenging views. Above all, a polycentric society has a broader base for creativity. The greater the public brainpower of a society, the better its management of natural resources. Finally, the book's 18 case studies of oil- and gas-producing countries are briefly presented, along with the methodology and definitions of key terminology used throughout the volume.
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1
© e Author(s) 2018
I. Overland (ed.), Public Brainpower,
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-60627-9_1
1
Introduction: Civil Society, Public
Debate andNatural Resource
Management
IndraOverland
The Paradox ofPlenty
Between 1980 and 2015, the world produced altogether 980 billion bar-
rels of oil, worth a total of USD 54 trillion.1 For the biggest exporters—
such as Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—oil has
generated export revenues on a scale that other countries can only dream
of. However, if these revenues are badly managed, not only do they go to
waste, but the countries may be even worse o than they would have
been otherwise. is is the ‘paradox of plenty’ (Karl 1997), which has
become almost a cliché, giving rise to what Bebbington (2013, 4) calls a
‘cottage industry’ of publications on how natural resource wealth aects
societies.2 ere has been less interest in the opposite relationship: how
dierent societal congurations inuence the management of natural
resources. is book therefore ips the independent and dependent vari-
ables of the resource curse literature, so that society becomes the
I. Overland (*)
Head of the Energy Programme, Norwegian Institute of International Aairs
(NUPI), Oslo, Norway
2
independent variable and the management of natural resource wealth the
dependent variable.
e literature that does exist on this relationship holds that soci-
etalinstitutions are important for how natural resources are governed,
but rarely goes into detail (see, e.g. Bulte et al. 2005; Mehlum et al.
2006). Many studies of institutions and the resource curse seek to deter-
mine whether institutions inuence how resource revenues impact the
economic development of countries. It mostly nds that having stronger
institutions puts a country in a better position to handle its resource rev-
enues.3 is amounts to a ‘winner takes all’ logic: countries that happen
to have strong social and political institutions before the discovery of
valuable natural resources are more likely to manage the ensuing revenues
successfully—whereas countries without strong institutions in place
before resource revenues start owing are ‘cursed’.4 is argument has a
fatalistic ring: what you have is what you get. e literature has less to say
about why some countries have good institutions or how countries with-
out such institutions might go about creating them. As Rosser (2006)
noted, there is a lack of research into what specic social and political
preconditions facilitate the good governance of natural resources.
Much of the literature does not even discuss how to dene a ‘strong’
institution. In fact, some central works on institutions and the resource
curse even fail to dene what an ‘institution’ is in the rst place—for
example, Mehlum etal.’s (2006) much-quoted article ‘Institutions and
the Resource Curse’. is is surprising, since ‘institution’ may refer to
anything from highly formalized events and organizational structures,
such as elections and ministerial bureaucracies, to entirely informal pat-
terns of cultural behaviour. (e narrower denition used in this book is
presented towards the end of this chapter.)
How Big Is Your Brain?
With this book, I attempt to ll the gap in the literature by assessing the
following hypothesis: it is not only formal aspects ofinstitutions that are
important for the success of natural resource governance but also their
embeddedness in a conducive socio-political context and the dynamism
I. Overland
3
of the long-term process of institution creation and re-creation. is
implies that successful management of natural resources depends on free-
dom of speech, a dynamic and wide-ranging public debate through mul-
tiple independent media channels and an active civil society engaged in
natural resource issues. Without these elements, a resource-rich country
is less likely to develop appropriate and eective institutions for manag-
ing its resource wealth.
e hypothesis inspires a theoretical concept that I refer to as ‘public
brainpower’. e main pillar of public brainpower is polycentricity, or
the coexistence of many dierent public actors freely expressing their
views: individual citizens, political parties, trade unions, charities, com-
panies, research institutes, religious institutions, the mass media and gov-
ernment institutions. e more polycentric a society is, the greater is its
‘brainpower’: its memory becomes more comprehensive and multifac-
eted, the various actors can perform quality control on each other’s ideas
and arguments, and it is more dicult to repress challenging thoughts.
Above all, a polycentric society oers a broader base for creativity. us,
the concept of public brainpower highlights the importance of creativity
to successful long-term governance—a point often overlooked in the lit-
erature on governance and certainly in the literature on natural resource
management.
e concept of public brainpower draws inspiration from the work by
Almond and Verba (1965) on civic culture, by Dahl (1956, 1989) on
polyarchy, by Habermas (1962) on the public sphere, and by Putnam
(1995, 2000) and Putnam etal. (1994) on civil society and social capital.
ese classics provide theoretical inspiration beyond the narrower and
more contemporary literature on institutions and the resource curse dis-
cussed above.
With their work on civic culture, Almond and Verba (1965) made a
breakthrough in the study of political culture. ey held that the popula-
tions of dierent countries have dierent attitudes and expectations
towards the state and their own participation in its aairs, and that these
attitudes determine how well states function. is is similar to the con-
cept of public brainpower but involves a stronger element of cultural
determinism.
1 Introduction: Civil Society, Public Debate andNatural Resource...
4
Polyarchy literally means ‘rule by many’ and was used by Dahl (1989,
220) to describe a political system that is open to contestation and in
which many dierent actors, though not necessarily all, can inuence the
system. However, polyarchy relates primarily to elections and non-
coercion in politics and to members of society as individuals with indi-
vidual rights—none of which are major foci in this book. My interest is
rather in the degree of multipolarity that exists in such a system and its
contribution to good governance: how dierent social units contribute
multiple competing voices to the governance of society and not only
through the narrow connes of electoral politics.
e concept of public brainpower is also closely related to that of the
‘public sphere’ as dened by Habermas (1962): a historical space between
the private domain and the state, where citizens could engage as equals
in critical discussion about the state and society and inuence their
development in the process. In the words of Habermas (1962, xi), this
was ‘a sphere in which state authority was publicly monitored through
informed and critical discourse by the people’. However, he saw the
public sphere as something specic to bourgeois society in the late eigh-
teenth and early nineteenth centuries, inextricably linked to face-to-face
conversations between small groups of middle-class citizens, undis-
turbed by the mass media and their commercialization. e classic locus
of the Habermasian public sphere was a café or salon where people
engaged in debates about art and literature. By contrast, my interest is in
contemporarypublic debate, regardless of whether it is face-to-face or
through the mass media and specically how it aects natural resource
management.
Finally, Putnams work on civil society and social capital is highly rel-
evant for this book (Putnam 2000; Putnam etal. 1994). Drawing on the
tradition of de Tocqueville, he sees civil society (including activities like
bowling or visiting friends) as helping to create social capital in the form
of trust and shared values (Putnam 2000). According to this line of
thought, a society with a high level of social capital is more cohesive and
functions better. e main connection between an active civil society and
good governance is the presence of stronger networks, norms and trust,
which enable society and the state to work together constructively, result-
ing in better governance (Putnam etal. 1994).
I. Overland
5
By referring to ‘public brainpower’, rather than simply recycling the
terminology of Dahl, Habermas or Putnam, I aim to highlight the capac-
ity of the public to aid decision-makers in the governance of society: the
strengths inherent in a diverse civil society and public debate, and on
which the state can draw to govern more eectively. A polycentric society
is brimming with tensions and contradictions, and the sum of its often-
opposing parts constitutes a capacity for thought not found among nar-
rower elites on their own. In a thriving democracy, this point may seem
obvious, even banal—but in many nondemocratic states, decision- makers
seem unaware of such a perspective. e international discourse about
democracy and free speech that such leaders normally encounter is con-
cerned with human rights and their infringement,that is to say,with eth-
ics. is book focuses instead on free speech as a tool for eective
management of natural resources.
Sources ofInspiration
An important source of inspiration for the hypothesis outlined above is
the case of Norwegian petroleum governance. e strength of institu-
tions in Norway seems to lie not primarily in their design or content, but
in the open and dynamic public debate in which they are embedded. It
appears that Norway has been relatively successful in developing good
institutions because it has open public debates that function as a continu-
ous collective brainstorming for the creation of new institutions while
securing public scrutiny of existing ones. e unfettered involvement of
many independent actors in the public debate ensures a broad and varied
base for conceiving new institutions, checks and balances on existing
institutions, and the continuous evolution of institutions apace with the
shifting needs of society and of the petroleum sector (see Berreord and
Heum 1990, 34).
Norwegian petroleum institutions are constantly evolving and adapt-
ing to new conditions and knowledge. Changes in these institutions just
in the period 2006–2016 aected almost every level of the country’s
petroleum governance system: the tax deductibility of oil exploration
costs, the share of state ownership of the national oil company, the
1 Introduction: Civil Society, Public Debate andNatural Resource...
6
opening and closure of geographical areas for oil and gas exploration,
investment rules for the sovereign wealth fund and limits on how much
of the fund can be spent each year. Both the frequency of such changes
and the broad public debate preceding them are indicators of
dynamism.
Within the Norwegian context, a particular source of inspiration for
this book has been the aid programme ‘Oil for Development’, launched
in 2005. rough this programme, the Norwegian Agency for
Development Cooperation (NORAD) assists prospective oil-producing
states in getting a good start and trying to avoid the resource curse by
supporting the development of petroleum-sector institutions before the
oil revenue start pouring in. In practice, much of the work of this aid
programme has been implicitly or explicitly about how to emulate
Norway’s institutions of petroleum governance. During the early years of
the programme, petroleum-sector institutions tended to be treated as
something that could be copied from one country to another—with
some adjustment for local conditions, but without any attempts to alter
the broader socio-political context in those countries (NORAD 2012,
1–3; Lopez Peralta 2009, 78; Flemming etal. 2007; Ekern 2005). One
reason seems to have been the requirement that the aid programme be
demand-driven, with the recipient states having the nal say over its con-
tent. e governments of recipient states were not necessarily interested
in complicated information about the Norwegian socio-political system
that might alsoraise questions about their own rule. Quick technocratic
petroleum-sector xes seemed more attractive.
In addition to the eorts of the Oil for Development programme to
spread the gospel of Norwegian petroleum-sector institutions, there have
been cases of countries trying on their own initiative to emulate the suc-
cessful institutions of Norway. For example, the USD 880 billion
Norwegian oil fund—formally the foreign assets branch of the Norwegian
Pension Fund—has been cited as an important source of inspiration for
the sovereign wealth funds of countries such as Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan
(Tsani 2015, 95; NBIM 2017; Ramirez-Cendrero and Wirth 2016).
According to Olsen and Peters (1996, vii), ‘public organizations in one
country sometimes are able to learn from their peers in other countries
(emphasis added). However, as argued by Humphreys and Sandbu (2007,
I. Overland
7
226), the political and institutional context may be decisive for the per-
formance of such funds. As long as Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have
socio-political contexts fundamentally dierent from those of Norway,
their institutions cannot necessarily be expected to function like those of
Norway.
Countries that attempt to emulate others risk falling into the same trap
as the Soviet Union. Although the USSR excelled at basic natural science
and was reasonably successful as an industrial manufacturer, it was weaker
when it came to generating its own new technologies (Balzer 1989).
Individual scientists and citizens had original ideas, but, apart from mili-
tary applications, few of these ideas were ever developed into mass-
produced products available to the Soviet population, let alone the world
market. Even the rst Soviet nuclear bomb, detonated in 1949, drew
signicantly on espionage carried out by the ‘Cambridge Five’ for the
Soviet Union (Weinstein and Vassiliev 1999, 180–185).
While the Soviets were busy copying, the capitalist countries moved
on, generating new technologies, consumer goods and levels of welfare.
is has implications for nondemocratic states that are now attempting
to emulate successful institutions of natural resource governance in dem-
ocratic societies, some of which are included among the country-case
studies in this volume. As institutions are more dependent on context
than are physical technologies, the would-be authoritarian emulators of
the resource governance institutions of open societies may have an even
harder time than the Soviets did. e problem with such emulation may
be its superciality. As argued above, the strength of institutions in a
country like Norway lies not in their formal characteristics, which can
readily be observed, but in the open and dynamic public debate in which
the institutions are rooted and which may not be immediately noticeable
if the focus remains on the institutions.
A few sources provide some support for the hypothesis of Public
Brainpower. Ostrom (2005, 29) argues that attempts to create new insti-
tutions are often based on ‘naïve ideas’ about good and bad institutions
that fail to take into account how dierent institutions actually perform
in specic contexts. Collier and Hoeer (2009, 1) hold that it is not
democracy as such, but checks and balances that enable countries to
manage their natural resources sensibly. Korhonen (2004, 34) reasons
1 Introduction: Civil Society, Public Debate andNatural Resource...
8
that greater political freedom and improved education leads to better
institutions and improves a resource-rich country’s long-term growth
potential. Ahmadov et al. (2012, 11) contend that avoidance of the
resource curse depends on transparency and accountability in revenue
management.
Polycentricity andResource Management:
AFirst Glance attheRelationship
Existing datasets provide some initial pointers on the issues dealt with in
this book. Figure 1.1 plots indicators related to the scope for public
debate in society (independent variable) against indicators related to gov-
ernance of natural resources (dependent variable). is is solely for
exploratory illustrativepurposes and the choice of indicators used in the
scatterplots is based on what data happened to be available.
All four scatterplots show considerable correlation between the paired
variables using Pearson’s product-moment correlation coecient: free-
dom of press and budgetary openness (r = 0.61); political rights and
resource governance (r= 0.80); personal freedom and resource gover-
nance (r=0.81); freedom and non-corruption (r=0.77). is provides a
preliminary indication that the hypothesis may be correct and that public
debate does indeed have a powerful eect on natural resource
governance.
Such simple correlations do not necessarily reect causal relationships
between the variables on the x- and y-axes. One way of moving beyond
the correlations would be to run multivariate regressions on large num-
bers of countries and variables, in order to narrow down the causal rela-
tionships. is is the type of exercise Haber and Menaldo (2011) did in
their much-quoted article arguing that natural resource wealth does not
necessarily lead to authoritarianism. However, such analyses are not
unproblematic (see Papaioannou and Siourounis 2008, 366, 370;
Andersen and Ross 2014). A central issue is whether the second-hand
data normally used for such analyses actually represent what they are
assumed to represent (Mitchell 2009, 423).
I. Overland
9
Algeria
Angola Azerbaijan
Canada
Colombia
Egypt
Kazakhstan
Netherlands
Nigeria
Norway
Qatar
Russia
Saudi Arabia
UAE
UK
Venezuela
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
4.00 5.00 6.00 7.00 8.00 9.00 10.00
CorruptionPerceptionIndex
Freedom Index
Angola
AzerbaijanColombia
Egypt
Iraq
Kazakhstan
Nigeria
Norw
ay
Qatar
Russia
Saudi A.
UK
Venezuela
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
020406080100
The Open Budget Index
Freedom of Press
Algeria
Angola
Azerbaijan
Iraq
Canada
Colombia
Iran
Kazakhstan
Libya
Nigeria
Norway
Qatar
Russia
Saudi Arabia
UK
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
02468
Resource Governance Index
Political Rights
Algeria Angola
Azerbaijan
Canada
Colombia
Egypt
Iraq
Kazakhstan
Nigeria
Norw
ay
Qatar
Russia
Saudi A.
UK
Venezuela
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
3.00 4.00 5.00 6.00 7.00 8.00 9.00 10.00
Resource Governance Indicator
Personal Freedom
Fig. 1.1 Scatterplots of various indicators for independent and dependent variables. Countries named in the figure are
those included as case studies in this book. Sources: CATO Institute 2012; Freedom House 2013; NRGI 2013; TI 2012
1 Introduction: Civil Society, Public Debate andNatural Resource...
10
An alternative approach is to study individual cases in detail, in order
to understand each of them in some depth. is approach has its own
weaknesses—not least the subjectivity of those conducting the study and
the diculty of generalizing from one case to another. Such an approach
is therefore not necessarily better than a multivariate regression, but it
can be useful for exploratory purposes and for attempting to pin down
causal relationships.
Country Case Studies
For the purposes of this book, I selected 18 countries and invited relevant
researchers to provideempirical input on them in the form of chapters
for the book. All the countries are major oil and/or gas producers, so in
the rest of the book, the natural resource governance issues raised in this
introductory chapter are examined through the lens of the petroleum sec-
tor. ere are two main reasons for this choice. Firstly, it makes the case
studies more comparable with each other. Secondly, few natural resources
and opportunities in the world have been wasted on a scale similar to that
of petroleum revenues, so understanding how to govern them more
eectively is a matter of considerable importance. Together, the 18 coun-
tries stand for most of the world’s oil exports and much of its petroleum
history. e aim is still to provide analysis and draw conclusions that are
also relevant for the governance of other natural resources. As a general
theoretical concept, public brainpower may even be relevant for a coun-
try such as China, where the authorities appear to resist the involvement
of the broader public in decision-making.
For comparative purposes, the selection of countries was made as
diverse as possible on as many dimensions as possible (see Fig.1.2). e
countries dier on several variables. To ensure geographical and cultural
variety, at least two countries were included from each of the world’s
major oil- and gas-producing regions: the Arab/Persian Gulf, the former
Soviet Union, Latin America, North Africa, the Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries and sub-
Saharan Africa. us, the case studies include developed, middle-income
and developing economies; democratic and nondemocratic regimes;
I. Overland
11
countries ranked high and low on democracy, freedom of speech, gover-
nance and corruption indices; members and non-members of Organization
of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the EU and the
International Energy Agency; as well as countries with predominantly
Catholic, Muslim, Orthodox Christian and Protestant populations.
Although it can be useful to categorize these countries along many
dimensions as I have done above, each country has its own unique history
and setting for the interaction between civil society and the petroleum
sector. Iraq is a war-torn country that experienced a US-led invasion and
that continues to suer from ethno-sectarian violence and the meteoric
rise and fall of the Islamic State. Venezuela had 17 years of left-wing rule
under former president Hugo Chávez and his successor Nicolás Maduro
and suers from the political polarization of its society. Egypt was a sig-
nicant oil exporter in the 1980s and 1990s but became a net oil importer
around 2010 and is haunted by the legacy of former president Hosni
Mubarak and the Arab Spring. Russia stands out as a former superpower
with 70 years of Soviet history followed by a period of lawlessness in the
1990s and then growing authoritarianism under President Vladimir
Putin. Even between Norway and the UK, there is a stark contrast in
approaches to the petroleum sector and the involvement of the public in
Canada
Norway
Netherl.
UK
Qatar
Saudi A.
Iraq
UAE
Colomb.
Venez.
Azerb.
Kazakh.
Russia
Nigeria
Angola
Libya
Algeria
Egypt
Press Freedom
Resource Governan
ce
Open Budget
HDI
Sub-Saharan A.
Fig. 1.2 Variation in country cases. The centre of the diagram represents low
scores, the outer parts high scores. Sources: Freedom House 2016a, b; World Bank
2015; IBP 2016; UNDP 2014; Revenue Watch Institute 2013
1 Introduction: Civil Society, Public Debate andNatural Resource...
12
policy formulation, despite the fact that both countries are West European
constitutional monarchies with strong cultural and social ties and have
successfully coordinated the development of the North Sea petroleum
province across their shared maritime boundary.
Examining and comparing such diverse countries can yield a multi-
tude of perspectives on the relationship between public debate and the
management of petroleum resources. e many dimensions on which the
countries vary make it possible to take into account factors other than
civil society which may aect the management of petroleum resources. If
the aim were to test the hypothesis through a multivariate regression,
some of the dimensions would be used for the regression itself and the
others might be used as control variables. While this study instead
attempts a qualitative, case-study approach, it is still helpful to consider
the various dimensions in order to understand their role in each of the
case studies.
Definitions andAnalytical Building Blocks
For the purposes of this book, ‘civil society’ is dened as the sum of
autonomous social actors (individuals and groups) who interact with and
exert inuence over the state and society (Cox 1999; Hearn 2001). For
further discussion of the denition of civil society and some alternative
approaches, see Heinrich (2005), Edwards (2004) and Evers and Laville
(2004).
‘Public debate’ is dened as the expression of views on matters that are
of concern to the public—often, but not always, with opposing or diverg-
ing views being expressed by participants in the discussion. Public debate
takes place mostly through the mass media, but also at meetings or
through social media, academic publications and government policy doc-
uments (for further discussion of the understanding of public debate, see
Reichborn-Kjennerud 2014 and Barkho 2016).
e terms ‘governance’ and ‘management’ of the petroleum sector are
used interchangeably. Drawing on Lahn et al. (2007, 17) and Hults
(2012, 62), ‘petroleum sector governance’ is dened as the socio-political
system for making and implementing policy on the exploitation of oil
I. Overland
13
and gas resources. ‘Good governance’ of the petroleum sector or of natu-
ral resources is dened as translating them into a high human develop-
ment index score for a sustained period while limiting environmental
harm.
e case-study contributors were asked to map the public debate and
the role of dierent actors in inuencing how oil and gas resources and
revenue are managed. ree levels of analysis relevant for this mapping
can be distinguished: (1) the dierent types of civil society actors that may
contribute to public debate, (2) the petroleum governance issues that may
be subject to debate and (3) the institutions of petroleum governance
responsible for handling these issues. e three next paragraphs discuss
these threelevels.
e contributors were asked to examine the roles of the following
types of civil society actors in the public debate on oil and gas governance:
companies, educational institutions, foreign NGOs and international
organizations, local and national NGOs, individual citizens, the mass
media, political parties, religious organizations, think-tanks, trade unions
and universities. e following questions were posed about these actors:
What role does each type of actor play in inuencing how petroleum
resources and revenues are managed in your country? Are there any
examples of success in inuencing the management of petroleum
resources? In what ways are non-state actors hindered in inuencing
petroleum governance?
e list of petroleum governance issues that might be subject to public
debate and inuence, and thus covered by the case studies, is long and
includes topics as diverse as the level of taxation on oil and gas, corrup-
tion and peak oil (see Table1.1).5
Various institutions might deal with these areas of petroleum gover-
nance, some of the most obvious being national oil companies, petroleum
ministries and directorates, national geological surveys, environmental
agencies, central banks and sovereign wealth funds. For the purposes of
this book, an ‘institution’ is dened as a formalized organization; it should
be dedicated to one or more specic purposes, have a name and identi-
able employees or members, and its existence should be anchored in a
written mandate or other text.
1 Introduction: Civil Society, Public Debate andNatural Resource...
14
Table 1.1 Some petroleum-policy issues potentially subject to public debate
Upstream Midstream Downstream Post-stream
Subsoil ownership
– Exploration incentives
– National interest
– Indigenous rights
Taxation
– Public interest
– Investment incentives
Predictability
Transparency
– Enhanced oil recovery
Environment
– Local pollution
– Climate change
– Peak oil, rate of
extraction
Supply industry
– Jobs and industrial
dev. vs. Dutch disease
Oil companies
– NOCs vs. IOCs vs.
private oil companies
Competition
Privatization
– Transparency and
corruption
– Oil worker pay
Sustainability
reporting
Corruption
Transport
– Oil spills
Natural
monopolies on
pipelines
– Transit countries
Refining
– Jobs and
industrial dev. vs.
Dutch disease
Pollution
Energy trade
Domestic
industry vs.
export revenue
– Govt. vs.
private trading
vehicles
Transparency
and corruption
Energy subsidies
– Energy poverty
Economic
stimulus
Political
discontent
Energy
efficiency
– Climate change
Sovereign wealth fund
Corruption
– Savings rate
Transparency
– Financial risk
– Ethical investment
I. Overland
15
is contrasts with the signicantly broader denitions employed else-
where in the social science literature. For example, Huntington (1965,
394) denes institutions as ‘stable, valued, recurring patterns of behav-
ior’. Giddens (1984, 24) sees institutions as ‘enduring features of social
life’, including modes of discourse, political institutions, economic insti-
tutions and legal institutions. According to North (1990, 3), ‘Institutions
are the rules of the game in a society or, more formally, are the humanly
devised constraints that shape human interaction.’ Finally, drawing on
North, Menaldo (2016, 81) denes ‘institutions’ as ‘the matrix of
incentives, constraints, opportunities and beliefs that represent the for-
mal and informal rules of the game’.
Such broad denitions make it hard to see the dierence between insti-
tutions and culture, social structure or society as such. With such deni-
tions, it is dicult to see why the term ‘institution’ is needed at all. As a
central concern of this book is the relationship between the broader soci-
etal context and the institutions of petroleum governance, using a deni-
tion that does not distinguish between them could create complications.
Furthermore, narrow denitions of social science concepts are generally
advantageous because they enable more precise analysis. All-encompassing
and diuse social science denitions of terms like ‘institution’, ‘security
or ‘power’ sometimes seem driven by the desire of those working in a
given subject area to make that area as big and important as possible,
rather than to produce incisive analysis.
Some case-study contributors found their task daunting, as civil soci-
ety and public debate are hardly allowed at all in their countries. In such
cases, I asked the contributors to at least try to nd out what views or
thoughts the population might have contributed to a public debate if it
had been allowed—in other words, what repressed views might exist
below the surface. However, in some cases even this was dicult to write
much about. In many countries, decision-making and policy formulation
are so closed and public debate so repressed that it is scarcely feasible to
nd examples of anyone outside key government organs even attempting
to think aloud about how the country’s resource wealth should be man-
aged. at is in itself an important nding that speaks directly to the
hypothesis of this book: in some petroleum-rich countries, civil society
and public debate play hardly any role in the governance of petroleum
1 Introduction: Civil Society, Public Debate andNatural Resource...
16
resources. According to the hypothesis, in such countries, long-term
petroleum governance should be weak.
e rest of the book explores the strength of the hypothesis and its
supporting arguments through systematic empirical analyses of
petroleum- policy issues in the 18 selected oil- and gas-producing coun-
tries. As noted, all these countries are or have been among the world’s
major oil and gas producers, and thus have much to gain from handling
their resources wisely. However, many of them have not.
e penultimate chapter oers highlights from the case-study chap-
ters. e concluding chapter returns to the hypothesis presented in this
introductory chapter, ranks 33resource-rich countries on their success in
maximizing their public brainpower, and proposes some tenets for how
states can maximize the benets of free speech and public debate for their
own capacity to govern.
Notes
1. Value in 2015 USD, based on data from EIA (2017) on cumulative oil
production and value estimated according to oil price and ination for
each year.
2. Engerman and Sokolo (1997, 2002) argue that dierences in natural
endowments, especially agricultural resources, have aected the develop-
ment of institutions. Dell (2010) counters this view with special reference
to Peru. Ross (2001) and Tsui (2011) look at oil and Wantchekon (2002)
at primary exports; all nd that resource dependence is associated with
lower levels of democracy and argue that this is due to resource abun-
dance. Wiens (2014, 198) creates a formal model to show that resource
revenue makes it dicult to develop strong institutions. Haber and
Menaldo (2011) launch a critique of this literature, and of the work of
Ross in particular, arguing that most of the ndings are due to method-
ological weaknesses in the regressions applied. For more a detailed over-
view of this literature, see Boschini etal. (2013, 22).
3. Bulte etal. (2005), Corrigan (2014, 18), Islam (2003), Knack and Keefer
(1995), Korhonen (2004, 7, 31), Mehlum etal. (2006) and Robinson
etal. (2006) all seek to demonstrate through large-N studies that gover-
nance and institutional quality play a decisive role in economic growth
and development.
I. Overland
17
4. Al-Ubaydli (2012), Andersen and Aslaksen (2013) and Ross (2012) all
argue that the decisive factors are the quality and strength of institutions
before the ow of natural resource revenue starts: countries with weak
institutions are more likely to suer from the resource curse. Countering
Sachs and Warner’s (1995) claim that institutions are not important
because resource revenues are not associated with institutional decay,
Mehlum etal. (2006, 3) hold that the role of institutions cannot be dis-
missed altogether. ey hold that states with ‘producer-friendly’ institu-
tions handle resources well, while those with ‘grabber-friendly’ institutions
handle them badly and tend to become poorer. Boschini etal. (2007, 593)
argue that whether natural resources are bad for development or not
depends not only on the strength of institutions, which they refer to as
‘institutional appropriability’, but also on the type of natural resource,
especially its ‘technical appropriability’. Kolstad and Wiig (2008) nd
that transparency is a necessary but not sucient condition for reducing
corruption.
5. On the importance of decision-making on some of the petroleum-policy
issues listed, see Stiglitz (2005, 14, 16, 17).
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I. Overland
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