Supply chain structures and economic performance: Institutions and the "curse" of primary commodities

The so-called "resource curse" hypothesis documents a paradoxical and negative relationship between resource abundance (exports of primary commodities) and economic development. Resource wealth is associated with slow economic growth and an increased risk of civil war, but the nature of the underlying causal mechanisms is disputed. Unlike existing work, based on cross-country analyses, I propose to analyze the micro-economic underpinnings of the paradox from a value chain perspective. How does the organization of the chain structure impact on the process converting natural resources into economic performance? This study will merge recent literature on the resource curse and commodity chains. This implies a combination of theoretical model building (focusing on the distribution of rents and implied incentives for investment in various capital assets), econometric testing (considering the effect of country-commodity combinations on economic performance), and qualitative case study work (an in-depth comparison of three selected chains). The relevance of this study extends beyond the domain of academics, shedding light on opportunities for private and public sector agents to develop sustainable supply chains in the context of resource-rich (post) conflict countries. The social relevance is obvious in light of persistent poverty in many countries affected by "the curse".