Based on a case study about government procurement practices in South Sudan between 2010 and 2013, this paper argues that although the institutional corridor – the actual space for institutional change (Sehring, 2009) delineated by informal SPLA/M ordering mechanisms – is indeed narrow, it is also in flux and can unexpectedly widen during an ‘open moment’; a particularly intense period of rearrangement of the social order (Lund, 1998). New actors may come into play during such moments that can renegotiate the legitimate space for institutional change.
Returnee diaspora entrepreneurs
The ‘open moment’ in this paper refers to an 18-month austerity period following the 2012 decision by the government of South Sudan to shut down oil-production, effectively cutting off 98% of its revenues and causing a 56%1 drop in its GDP. The new actors that became a particularly interesting group in this context are the returnee diaspora (or ‘reaspora’) entrepreneurs who had already been active as government suppliers before the oil shut-down, but whose identity as outsiders that gained experience abroad was seen more as a liability than an asset under previous circumstances.