Maria-Therese Gustafsson; Martin Scurrah · 2019
The Extractive Industries and Society, Vol. 6, Issue 1

Unpacking the extractivist state: The role of weak state agencies in promoting institutional change in Peru

When a resource boom has begun it is often challenging to develop institutions for governing natural resources in an inclusive and sustainable manner. Whereas existing studies on resource-rich states have focused on political elites or social mobilization for explaining attempts to strengthen such institutions, we know less about the role of less influential reform-oriented agencies (e.g. environmental agencies, subnational governments), and what explains how and why on rare occasions they are surprisingly effective in driving institutional change. Theoretically, we draw on theories on institutional weakness and change. Based on 139 interviews, we analyze the outcomes of different strategies adopted by the Peruvian Environmental Ministry (MINAM) to enforce a participatory zoning and land-use planning (LUP) reform between 2008 and 2016. We argue that weak agencies are dependent upon strategic ability, here referring to the skill of an agency to adapt its strategies to reigning political opportunities, thereby contributing to defending or expanding its autonomy vis-á-vis powerful groups and building alliances with societal actors that could defend it from opponents. By unpacking the dynamics within a resource-rich state, we contribute with a nuanced analysis of the challenges of building and effectively enforcing institutions in a context of expanding extractive industries.

Full publication is available on: DOI

Contributors from our Network

Maria-Therese Gustafsson

Maria-Therese Gustafsson
Stockholm University

Maria-Therese Gustafsson is Assistant Senior Lecturer at the Department of Political Science, Stockholm University. Prominent themes in her research are the impacts of global policies and private governance initiatives, on local communities in the Andean region and in Brazil. Empirically, she has focused on the extractive and climate governance, and more recently of the public and private governance initiatives in the supply chains of soy and beef from Brazil to selected European countries. She currently co-leads two research projects on new supply regulations and their implementation in the supply chains of beef and soy between Europe and Brazil. She has published articles in World Development, Third World Quarterly, WIRE’s Climate Change, Environmental Science and Policy, Global Environmental Politics, and the monography Private Politics and Peasant Mobilization: Mining in Peru (Palgrave).

Read more about Maria-Therese Gustafsson ›

Share on:

Stay tuned on the latest news from our research network.