Through the development of a series of comparative case studies in present-day Latin America, Africa, Europe and the former Soviet Union we will explore the way in which the current concerns for social responsibility in the international oil and gas industry are transferred into concrete sub and national level development initiatives, as well as the results of these projects on local communities that neighbor and are dependent on the oil and gas industry. Agreement now exists amongst oil companies and governments that social responsibility depends on the introduction of strict governmental measures aimed at transparency and anti-corruption, but there remains little concern and knowledge about how best to avoid, or make up for, negative social and environmental impacts at the local level.

We study (ethnographically and qualitatively) the way in which knowledge and technology are transferred and controlled between different levels, how international policy contributes or inhibits the strengthening of transparency and governance of local and national institutions, and the tangible contributions this makes, or fails to make, to the improvement of local conditions of development and poverty reduction.

The project studies how the common example of conflict from oil can be avoided, and aims to further identify and discuss the cases and circumstances where this has been possible. Recognition of the resource curse is not a claim that natural resource abundance is always or inevitably bad for economic growth and development. On the contrary, there are powerful historical examples of successful resource-based development in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. It might be argued that the country case-studies chosen for this project represent the extremes of success and failure in this sense. The intent of this project is to question and explain the empirical basis of these judgments through qualitative and innovative multi-level field research.

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