CSCW: Conflict and Economic Performance (2004-2012)

CSCW - Conflict and Economic Performance

This working group aims at integrating the role of conflicts for economic performance and the role of economic conditions for the onset of conflicts within formal economic models. This is an important challenge. It implies a widening of the scope of economics to integrate social issues and things that really matter. The group’s research agenda is built on an implicit criticism of technocratic mainstream economics for its lack of a coherent treatment of conflicts and neglect of social mechanisms. In contrast, this group tries to make a case for analysis that combines social and economic factors while acknowledging their interdependence. The working group is a ‘joint venture’ of CSCW and of the Centre of Excellence at the University of Oslo on Equality, Social Organization, and Performance (ESOP).

The WG’s projects contain both theoretical and empirical explorations. Some important questions:

  • Many countries are in a state between civil war and peace. These countries can relapse to civil war, transit to a peaceful reconstruction with social and economic progress, or converge towards a lawless balance of power. What characterizes each of the paths and what determines why countries enter different paths?
  • On average countries with natural resource abundance tend to be more conflict prone and tend to remain less developed than others. What are the mechanisms behind this resource curse and what is the role of institutions?
  • The resource curse is also related to the illegal cultivation of opium (Afghanistan) and coca (Colombia). What is the relationship between economic performance, warlord dominance and illegal production of narcotic substances?
  • When the state fails to supply basic security and protection of property, bandit gangs, gangsters, warlords and guerrilla groups take over. These violent entrepreneurs seize the opportunity of plundering, while they at the same time enter the protection business and provide protection against other plunderers. How do these two parasitic activities interact? What is the role of large-scale demobilization after conflict for the chances of ending up in such a protection screw?
  • In general, what is the relationship between the conflict strength of opposing groups, the intensity of the fight and regime stability? Do most rebellion groups fight against the odds?
  • What are the transitional forces at work in the early phases after a civil war? How should one design reform policies and allocate aid in countries with potentially destructive social forces?
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