'Good Governance' of the Extractive Resources Sector
: A Critical Analysis

  • Evelyn Dietsche

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This doctoral thesis presents a critical analysis of the global debate on the ‘good governance’ of the extractive resources sectors. Its starting point is that over the past decade this debate has seen a remarkable elevation, while at the same time the governance concept itself has been subjected to critique. To understand how the sector-focused ‘good governance’ agenda compares against this critique, the thesis uses a conceptual framework that identifies the different uses of this concept. Against this background, it reviews the main scholarly debates on the opportunities and challenges of countries producing extractive resources and identifies four critical questions, which it then sets out to answer.
    The main argument is that the global debate on the ‘good governance’ of the extractive resources sectors has been built on the widely endorsed conclusion that ‘good institutions’ make for better outcomes and that therefore producer countries need to improve their sector institutions. However, this seemingly obvious conclusion has ignored the complexity and confusion around ‘governance’ and ‘institutions’ that prevails across the broader social science literature. This argument is based on the answers the thesis provides to four critical questions: what are institutions; how do institutions change; how are they enforced; and do existing institutions matter for the design of interventions aimed at improving institutions.
    The thesis lays open that the policy conclusions of the global debate are premised on the dominance of a particular reference point paired with a particular methodology where the emphasis has been on, first, identifying the types of institutions that have apparently led to desired results, and then to promote these as a means to steer towards these results. It concludes that this focus has premised the global agenda on a false sense of clarity on what producer countries ought to be improving.
    Date of Award2014
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorPaul Stevens (Supervisor)


    • Extractive industries
    • Resources sectors
    • Good governance
    • Institutions
    • Resource curse

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