Business conflict and the shadow state: The case of west Africa

William Reno*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Most scholars of Africa’s economic crisis focus on the dynamics of the state’s institutional reconstruction, as opposed to exploring the possibility of fundamental discontinuities in the system of African states. The implications for African international relations of closer business-shadow state ties are significant. Rulers presiding over already weak state institutions will find that closer ties with foreign firms may represent the most viable response to challenges from neighboring shadow state networks. Political conflict often centers on trade and commerce, a struggle that creditors’ local agents recognize. This struggle is what reformers hope to redirect into institutional channels. But the struggle is over more than just resources. The chapter differs from state-centered approaches in its use of the shadow state to refocus analyses of failures of reform on intragroup conflicts, as well as on external pressures. It examines political networks rather than the state itself.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBusiness and the State in International Relations
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780429703737
ISBN (Print)9780367017408
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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