Linkages from large-scale mining

This is a research proposal for which I plan to do field research in 2017

Resource optimists argue that extractive industries are not only a powerful engine of economic growth, but can boost other productive sectors and thus contribute to broader social and economic development. Theoretically, this view is inspired by the academic literature on economic linkages (channels through which extractive industries contribute to national and local economies; can be forward, backward, consumption or fiscal linkages), global commodity chains and global value chains. It has translated in the World Bank’s and other donors’ policies since the 1980s, which now increasingly include ‘local content’ requirements and support for small and medium enterprises.

Yet backward and consumption linkages are very difficult to measure and existing research mainly draws on macro-economic and country-wide data. My proposed research therefore takes a more localized and politicized angle. It focuses on locally-owned subcontracting companies and assesses their contribution to development, taking into account power, social relations and embeddedness in local institutions. In doing so, it addresses a concern often raised with respect to value chain analysis, which looks at aspects of governance within the chain, but underplays the external factors (social and institutional) that deeply affect the functioning of value chains.

I will try to gain further insight into the ways in which power, social relations and institutional embeddedness play into the issue of subcontracting, and the outcomes this creates in terms of access/exclusion with a particular focus on access to employment and its effect on local inclusive development.