Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


International Studies (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Bruce M. Bagley

Second Committee Member

William C. Smith

Third Committee Member

Maria Laura Gómez Mera

Fourth Committee Member

Merike Blofield

Fifth Committee Member

Susan Kaufman Purcell


In the early-1980s, the rise in international interest rates and subsequent decline in international petroleum prices brought recession and debt crisis to Latin American countries. Economic crisis led to the adoption of neoliberal adjustment measures involving the privatization of state owned enterprises, and the reorientation of production toward the international market. As a result, the institutional and regulatory frameworks of several hydrocarbon producing and exporting countries in the region have undergone varying degrees of change over the last two decades. More recently, a resurgent left in the politics of Latin American countries calls into question the sustainability of orthodox development strategies in this post-Washington consensus era. Unlike other policy areas, hydrocarbon (oil and gas) sector development policy in Latin American countries has shown surprising incongruities throughout the neoliberal and post-neoliberal eras. While scholars in a variety of fields have identified many exogenous determinants of hydrocarbon sector development policy, less attention has been given to domestic factors that shape its variation across cases. This comparative case study emphasizes macroeconomics, state capacity, and reform coalitions as relevant domestic explanatory factors that shape hydrocarbon sector development policy. Empirically, the work is an analysis of variation in economic-sectoral development policy in the cases of Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico during the 1990s; three hydrocarbon producing nations with diversified economies. In the concluding chapter, the research design’s reliability and validity are reinforced by a treatment of the same analytical framework to these same three country cases during the post-neoliberal period of the 2000s. The research contributes to an established literature in international and comparative political economy that assesses the role of the state as an independent actor engaged in the process of economic transformation and national development in an era defined by integration into globalized market economies.


hydrocarbons; nationalization; privatization; state capacity; reform coalition; economic development