2010 Conference

GSPIA Hosts First Annual International Political Economy Colloquium

The first International Political Economy Colloquium (IPEC), “Globalization and Natural Resources,” was held in Phipps Conservatory on March 26. Prominent IPE scholars presented their work on natural resources. In addition, Erik Wibbels, Benjamin Cohen, Ronald Rogowski, Michael Tomz, Peter Rosendorff and James Caporaso served as discussants.

Submitted papers focused on the economic natural resource curse, the political natural resource curse and the relationship between natural resources and conflict. Conventional wisdom assumes that the level of natural resources in any country is determined exogenously. Many of the conference papers questioned this assumption and explored ways in which states can manage resources more productively. The relationships between international trade, human capital, conflict, domestic institutions and natural resources were analyzed and discussed.

The authors highlighted differing causal paths and mechanisms in their analyses on natural resources and international and domestic factors. Sara McLaughlin Mitchell and Cameron Thies presented Resource Curse in Reverse: How Civil Wars Influence Natural Resource Production. This paper fills a gap in the literature on how war affects natural resources. Most current literature emphasizes how natural resources lead to war. Mitchell and Thies found that civil war leads to a decline in oil exports and fisheries, but an increase in diamond export.

Nancy Brune’s Openness and Natural Resource Management, Irfan Nooruddin’s Banking on Oil: The World Bank’s Role in Promoting Natural Resource Exploitation, Johanness Urpelainen’s Environmental Regulation in the Shadow of International Trade Law and Nita Rudra’s Can Preferential Trade Agreements Save Lives? Openness and the Politics of Potable Water highlighted the role of international institutions and factors in natural resource availability, quality and production. Brune examined how international integration affects natural resource management, while Rudra analyzed how trade affects access to potable water. Brune found financial integration to have a positive impact on growth in resource rich countries. Rudra concluded that participation in preferential trade agreements improve access to water in developing countries through information sharing and enforcement. Urpelainen developed a theory that challenges the conventional wisdom that international trade institutions constrain domestic institutions from enacting regulations. He showed that international trade agreements are associated with domestic environmental regulations. Nooruddin used a case study of the World Bank’s oil exploration projects during the 1980s to show how critical the World Bank is in providing information, technology and credibility in the search and extraction of natural resources.

David Bearce and Jen Laks’ Towards an Alternative Explanation for the Resource Curse: Natural Resources, Immigration, and Democratization and Nathan Jensen and Noel Johnston’s Political Risk, Reputation, and the Resource Curse focused on domestic conditions and outcomes. Bearce and Laks asked why many natural resource rich countries are dictatorships. They answered by highlighting the role of immigration in delaying democracy and decreasing the cost of repression. Instead of a political resource curse, they proposed a political immigration curse. Jensen and Johnston explained that natural resource rents both increase the risk of expropriation and increase the incentive of governments to offer tax concessions to attract industry.

Finally, Sarah Brooks and Marcus Kurtz presented Endogenous Natural Resource Endowments: Rethinking the Political Resource Curse, which draws attention to the endogenous nature of natural resources. The growth of natural resources depends on human capital and natural resources endogenous to human capital. Therefore, two equilibrium result: high growth, available natural resources and good institutions; and slow growth, declining natural resources and poor institutions.
Future work will focus on addressing discussants’ and participants’ questions, comments and concerns. In addition, the participants hope to continue to collaborate and work together on developing this field on natural resources within international political economy.

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