CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

Unintended Consequences: Effects of Foreign Direct Investment in Resource Extraction on Ethnic Conflict

Daniel S. Matthews, University of Pennsylvania

Division: Social Sciences

Dept/Program: Political Science

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Nicholas Sambanis

Date of this Version: 06 April 2020


Political Science Honors Undergraduate Thesis


Over the past 70 years civil wars have become the most common form of war. Much time and thought has been devoted to understand why subnational groups fight. Additionally, scholars have long analyzed the so-called “resource curse”, whereby states with high levels of natural resources may tend to experience violence. As levels of globalized economic markets have proliferated in this time too, it is important to understand the relationship between foreign investment and war. Little research has been done on the interaction between resource extraction, foreign investment, and subnational conflict, especially using social identity formation as an analytical tool. This study identifies social identity formation as a possible causal mechanism of ethnic conflict and assesses whether foreign direct investment in resource extraction leads to conflict via such a mechanism. This study uses a qualitative case study to argue that this mechanism is at play in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region and then attempts to show that the same relationship may also exist globally using large-N quantitative data.


Comparative Politics

Suggested Citation

Matthews, Daniel S., "Unintended Consequences: Effects of Foreign Direct Investment in Resource Extraction on Ethnic Conflict" 06 April 2020. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania,

Date Posted: 12 June 2020




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