Researching the politics of development



The politics of natural resources and inclusive development


This project tracks the historical experience of countries with long-established histories of natural resource extraction in both Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.


Four countries are included in the study, two in Africa and two in Latin America. Ghana, Zambia, Peru and Bolivia have been selected based on a combination of shared and differentiating characteristics that make it feasible to address the research questions.

Research questions

  1. How has the type of political settlement and its dynamics shaped the governance and exploitation of natural resources, and how has this, in turn, shaped the political settlement?
  2. What are the dominant ideas that have shaped the extraction and governance of natural resources, including the redistribution of resources for development, and how has the discovery of natural resources reshaped the political imaginaries of key actors?
  3. What are the transnational and national-local dynamics involved here?
  4. What are the implications for inclusive development?

Methods and research design

To address these questions the project is organised around three integrated work programmes (WPs):

  • WP1: Country studies of political settlements, extraction and development.
  • WP2: Extractive industry taxation and social investment programmes.
  • WP3: Corporate social responsibility, transparency and inclusive development.

The project adopts a comparative research approach, based on a range of cases that are comparable across three main dimensions: political settlements; ideological perspectives; and the particular form of natural resource.
The early phases of the country studies combine secondary research and elite-level interviews. Workshops are also being conducted to discuss patterns emerging in the interviews and in aggregate historical mappings. The final written country studies will bring together findings from elite interviews, workshops and the fieldwork and empirical analysis conducted under WP2 and WP3.

How does this project fit within ESID’s research agenda?

This is the first of two distinct but related projects on natural resources (NR), the other being ‘oil, governance and inclusive development in Ghana and Uganda‘. These projects fall within ESID’s work on political settlements. This project relates to programme 2’s concern with the accumulation of wealth from natural resources and also programme 3’s interest in social provision. There will be a strong cross-cutting focus on transnational actors and processes (programme 5) and on issues of identity and equity (programme 4).


Lead researcherAnthony BebbingtonClark University, USA
ResearcherAbdul-Garafu AbdulaiThe University of Manchester, UK
Ishmael AyanooreThe University of Manchester, UK
Tomas FrederiksenThe University of Manchester, UK
Marja HinfelaarSouthern African Institute for Policy and Research, Zambia
Denise Humphreys BebbingtonClark University, USA
Paul MosleyUniversity of Sheffield
Cynthia SanbornUniversidad del Pacifico, Peru


Bebbington, A., Abdulai, A.-G., Humphreys Bebbington, D., Hinfelaar, M. and Sanborn, S. (eds.) (2018). Governing Extractive Industries: Policies, Histories, Ideas. Oxford University Press.
Journal articles
Bebbington, A. and Humphreys Bebbington, D. (2018). ‘Mining, movements and sustainable development: Concepts for a framework‘. Sustainable Development 26(5): 441-449.
Abdulai, A.-G. (2017). ‘The political economy of regional inequality in Ghana: Do political settlements matter?The European Journal of Development Research 29(1).
ESID publications
Ayanoore, I. (2018). ‘The politics of local content legislation in Ghana‘. ESID Working Paper No. 104.
Bebbington, A. with Abduali, A.-G., Hinfelaar, M., Humphreys Bebbington, D. and Sanborn, C. (2017). ‘Political settlements and the governance of extractive industry: A comparative analysis of the longue durée in Africa and Latin America‘. ESID Working Paper No. 81.
Hinfelaar, M. and Achberger, J. (2017). ‘The politics of natural resource extraction in Zambia‘. ESID Working Paper No. 80.
Sanborn, C., Ramírez, T. and Hurtado, V. (2017). ‘Mining, political settlements and inclusive development in Peru‘. ESID Working Paper No. 79.
Abdulai, A.-G. (2017). ‘Competitive clientelism and the political economy of mining in Ghana‘. ESID Working Paper No. 78.
Humphreys Bebbington, D. and Grisi Huber, C. (2017). ‘Political settlements, natural resource extraction, and inclusion in Bolivia‘. ESID Working Paper No. 77.
Frederiksen, T. (2017). ‘Corporate social responsibility and political settlements in the mining sector in Ghana, Zambia and Peru‘. ESID Working Paper No. 74.
The politics of governing natural resources in Ghana: Towards inclusive development? ESID Briefing No. 15.
Bebbington, A., Arond, E. and Dammert, J. L. (2016). ‘Scalar politics and transnational governance innovations: A political settlement lens on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in the Andes‘. ESID Working Paper No. 66.
Researching the politics of natural resource extraction: A new conceptual and methodological approach. ESID Briefing 9.
Bebbington, A., 5 February 2015 blog: ‘The “nature” of political settlements: extractive industries and the politics of inclusive development‘.
Bebbington, A. (2013). ‘Natural resource extraction and the possibilities of inclusive development: Politics across space and time’. ESID Working Paper No. 21.