Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program

Political Science


English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Nathan M Jensen


This dissertation examines the effect of external actors, including foreign investors, the home governments of foreign investors, and international organizations: IOs), on leadership survival in resource rich countries. According to the existing literature, resource rich countries care less about external reputation and have a higher level of political risks for foreign investors, so, theoretically, they would tend to nationalize the resource sectors, especially in the presence of resource nationalism. In reality, however, resource rich countries cooperate closely with foreign actors and join IOs that constrain themselves. This dissertation provides a theory to explain this puzzle, by modeling the interaction among foreign actors, the leaders of resource rich countries, and the domestic opposition. It argues that leaders of resource rich countries tend to maintain a close friendship with powerful foreign countries, not only because resource rich countries have strategic or economic importance, but also because they by nature face a higher level of revolutionary threat. By providing support to leaders who are friends of theirs, which depresses the opposition, foreign actors help the leaders of resource rich countries to stay in power. An empirical analysis on oil ownership and leadership turnover shows that a leader is more likely to survive when the oil is foreign owned. There are several foreign policy tools that foreign actors can use to assist the leaders, including military intervention, foreign aid, and support from IOs. Membership in IOs also has a similar effect on leadership survival, because IOs can legitimize the leaders and cover their unpopular activities.


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