Transparency Promotion in Resource-Rich Countries
My research builds upon the resource curse and external democracy promotion literatures to assess the prospects of transparency advocacy in non-democratic resource-rich countries. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan are all rich in hydrocarbons; however, in the last two decades, they have shown significant variation in terms of the transparency of oil revenues and expenditures. While Azerbaijan undertook substantial reforms to make its government revenues from oil almost completely transparent, Turkmenistan refrained from disclosing its revenues from natural gas exports. Finally, Kazakhstan, while undertaking some reforms, lagged behind Azerbaijan in pursuing a fully transparent revenue management policy. In authoritarian countries, transparency-related governance reforms are shaped by an interaction between international and domestic factors. Transparency in natural resource revenues is promoted by global actors including states, international financial institutions, and transnational networks as a measure to prevent or minimize corruption and mismanagement of revenues. In all three of my cases, the lack of public accountability and limited civil society activism prevented domestic agents from carrying out successful institutional reforms. In each case, the preferences of the elites have been important determinants of the degree of economic reform. I argue that transparency promotion from outside is expected to lead to institutional reform when it is matched with strong incentives for compliance. These incentives are created mostly by external actors, including states, international organizations, and international companies; yet they are also conditioned by the domestic economic and political landscape. Three cases from the Caspian region fully demonstrate the potential for different institutional outcomes among resource-dependent countries. A comparison of these countries' experiences will not only shed light on our understanding of the resource dependency and institutions, but also explain the institutional variance among the many non-democratic countries.