Princes, Brokers, and Bureaucrats: Oil and the State in Saudi Arabia

Princes, Brokers, and Bureaucrats: Oil and the State in Saudi Arabia

by Steffen Hertog
     
 

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In Princes, Brokers, and Bureaucrats, the most thorough treatment of the political economy of Saudi Arabia to date, Steffen Hertog uncovers an untold history of how the elite rivalries and whims of half a century ago have shaped today's Saudi state and are reflected in its policies. Starting in the late 1990s, Saudi Arabia embarked on an ambitious reform

Overview

In Princes, Brokers, and Bureaucrats, the most thorough treatment of the political economy of Saudi Arabia to date, Steffen Hertog uncovers an untold history of how the elite rivalries and whims of half a century ago have shaped today's Saudi state and are reflected in its policies. Starting in the late 1990s, Saudi Arabia embarked on an ambitious reform campaign to remedy its long-term economic stagnation.

The results have been puzzling for both area specialists and political economists: Saudi institutions have not failed across the board, as theorists of the "rentier state" would predict, nor have they achieved the all-encompassing modernization the regime has touted. Instead, the kingdom has witnessed a bewildering mélange of thorough failures and surprising successes. Hertog argues that it is traits peculiar to the Saudi state that make sense of its uneven capacities.

Oil rents since World War II have shaped Saudi state institutions in ways that are far from uniform. Oil money has given regime elites unusual leeway for various institutional experiments in different parts of the state: in some cases creating massive rent-seeking networks deeply interwoven with local society; in others large but passive bureaucracies; in yet others insulated islands of remarkable efficiency. This process has fragmented the Saudi state into an uncoordinated set of vertically divided fiefdoms.

Case studies of foreign investment reform, labor market nationalization and WTO accession reveal how this oil-funded apparatus enables swift and successful policy-making in some policy areas, but produces coordination and regulation failures in others.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The book represents a wonderful piece of research and, I think, will soon become recognized as a classic with important ramifications for the study of oil monarchies in general."—Roger Owen, Professor of Middle East History, Harvard University

"Toward the end of his career, the great Yale political scientist Charles Lindblom advised us to abandon the hopeless pursuit of scientific 'laws' and 'discoveries' and instead concentrate on what we can indeed do well: correcting the discipline's own errors and getting the facts straight. Steffen Hertog does both with consummate style and skill in Princes, Brokers, and Bureaucrats."—Robert Vitalis, University of Pennsylvania

"Princes, Brokers and Bureaucrats is the best book yet on the formation of the modern, bureaucratic Saudi state. Steffen Hertog had a bird's-eye view, as a participant observer, of the processes he depicts. The book is destined to become a standard in explaining how politics in Saudi Arabia works."—F. Gregory Gause, III, University of Vermont

"It is an ability to see how politics shapes the structure and operations of the contemporary Saudi state that distinguishes Hertog's book. In a work characterized throughout by rigorous analysis, astute historical reflection and sharp observation, Hertog brilliantly illustrates the complexities and contradictions of an Arab rentier state."—G. J. H. Dowling, Middle East Policy, February 2011

"Princes, Brokers, and Bureaucrats is an extraordinary book. Impressively researched, insightful, and lucidly written, Steffen Hertog has laid bare the complexity of the Saudi state, including its history, the ways the state functions, the impact of oil wealth on its institutions, and the behavior of its bureaucrats. . . . It is no exaggeration to write that Hertog's book is the finest book ever written on politics and the state in Saudi Arabia, an unparalleled achievement. . . . Hertog’s work reveals a number of wrinkles in the conventional wisdom on Saudi Arabia and the politics of oil states. Inefficiency and corruption exist in Saudi Arabia but so, too, do efficiency and professionalism. Where rentier theory predicts uniform patterns of government behavior, particularly in regard to corruption and paralyzing rent seeking, Hertog finds diverse patterns of behavior. . . . This book is the clearest and best documented work yet on the nuts and bolts of the Saudi government as well as its complicated bureaucracy and distribution of power."—Toby C. Jones, International Journal of Middle East Studies (2011)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801477515
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Publication date:
07/14/2011
Pages:
312
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Steffen Hertog is Kuwait Professor at Sciences Po Paris and Lecturer in the School of Government and International Affairs at the University of Durham.

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