'Confidence in our own Abilities': Suriname’s State Oil Company as a Pocket of Effectiveness

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This chapter analyses the conditions under which the Surinamese State Oil Company (Staatsolie) has been consolidated, not only as a firm oriented at the production of oil, but also as a development agent. Staatsolie’s chances to success seemed rather slim at its creation in the beginning of the 1980s, mainly because of the non-developmental, patrimonial character of Surinamese politics and the nature of Suriname’s state, which has traditionally been oriented toward patronage and clientelism. The chapter documents the origins of Staatsolie and focuses on its commitment to the acquisition and further development of technological and managerial expertise. It is argued that Staatsolie has become a true pocket of effectiveness: it ranks among the most successful companies in Suriname and its contributions to the economy of this small middle-income country are considerable. The success of Staatsolie’s attempt to become a development agent is attributed, in particular, to the company’s double strategy. The internal part of this strategy, derived from the management vision and ideological commitment of the company’s leadership, was aimed at developing technological and management skills. The external part of the strategy was aimed at steering away from political influences on the company and playing out politically the formal-legal position of the firm in the petroleum sector. After more than 30 years of Staatsolie, it is argued that the factors that were responsible for the company’s success may turn out to be the main challenges for the years ahead.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Politics of Public Sector Performance: Pockets of Effectiveness in Developing Countries
EditorsM. Roll
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Number of pages26
ISBN (Print)9780415643610
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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