Neopatrimonialism and Development: Pockets of Effectiveness as Drivers of Change

Research output: Working paperAcademic


This paper focuses on the notion of ‘pockets of effectiveness’ in the light of the theorisation of regulated neopatrimonialism. The attention to pockets of effectiveness – understood as public organisations which deliver public goods and services relatively effectively in contexts of largely ineffective government – adds to the understanding of regulated neopatrimonialism by focusing on the conditions under which conditions public sector organisations may contribute to development. The literature emphasises that two sets of factors contribute to the creation of pockets of effectiveness. Contextual political-economic factors relate to: political processes, political institutions and material interests and power positions of social groups. Internal factors concern organisational leadership and management, and the functions and attributes of organisations. The paper analyses the operations of several oil and gas companies in Russia and Kazakhstan in order to see how these firms are influenced by their political-economic environment and how they manage, or fail, to establish developmental potential. Russia’s political system is an example of regulated neopatrimonialism, while Kazakhstan is an example of a predatory form of neopatrimonialism. The paper concludes that the establishment of pockets of effectiveness in post-Soviet countries is rather difficult but not impossible in the case of Russia. The relative success of certain companies seems to result from the leadership’s adjustment to external political-economic realities and the establishment of a modus vivendi with the incumbent regime.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBordeaux
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

SeriesCentre Emile Durkheim Working Papers


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