Update #1

My initial plans for my research project took a detour in early July when an AidData working paper came to my attention that had significant overlap with my initial project design. This occurred far into my research portion and required some substantial changes to my project and threw my blog posting schedule out of order; hence the late blog post. However, this new outline has realigned my project with my strengths in theoretical and structural IR rather than a data-based/legal analysis.

Rather than stick with my original proposal and replicating/confirming the AidData results, my revised project examines a particular structural problem with Concessions based development that occurs when everything goes right. Much of the literature on concessions focuses on when local communities are mistreated or there are land rights disputes and violence. However, my research takes the opposite approach and focuses on concessions that provide education, sanitary facilities, healthcare, and security to their employees and their dependents. This is not necessarily a problem and in fact is a desired outcome from an individual viewpoint. However, from a governance perspective this can pose a significant threat to the legitimacy of the government in a weak state. When the public goods in a remote region are provided by a corporation and the citizens receive no positive benefit from the central government there is no particular reason why they should have allegiance to the government. In the long term, there is no reason why they should hold being “Liberian” as their primary identity, if being a Liberian citizen brings no protection or social benefits but being a Firestone employee brings a relative wealth of benefits.

It should be interesting to see how this concept develops as I delve deeper into the research on corporate ethics and legal responsibilities in zones of weak governance as well as sociological research on national identity.

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