Isabelle Rousseau

Facing a very complex environment with many economical, geopolitical and climate uncertainties and risks, National and International Oil Companies have been looking for a more rationale organizational structure to hold out against competition. This is the problem Pemex – the Mexican National Oil Company - which is third-ranked in world oil production, has been facing with. The reform process is not easy: it implies changes to the Constitution. With the recent democratization of the political regime, none of the major political parties alone is dominant in the Congress and has the capacity to push through such changes. Since the beginning of the nineties, the teams who governed Pemex tried to reply the following questions: Which kind of organizational mechanisms would allow Pemex to conserve its condition as a National Company and, in the same time, to be managed with the private sector principles and criteria? More concretely, is it possible to stimulate a market context inside a state monopoly without modifying the text of the Constitution? How can a new labor culture be created when the very influential Oil Trade Union has been maintaining a corporatist logic of the ancien régime? How to introduce criteria for corporate social responsibility when secrecy has been part of the traditions in the management of the company? What kind of evaluation is it possible to make nowadays about the reforms those managers offered?

Chinese aid and investment in Cambodia have been soaring for the last ten years thus indicating the rising influence of the People’s Republic of China, especially in countries where the Chinese community is strong. Chinese aid, free of any democratic rhetoric, allows the governments benefiting from it to ignore the requirements generally imposed by lending institutions. As a matter of fact, Cambodia is highly dependent on public aid for development. An analysis in terms of historical contingencies reflects a conjunction of two processes of putting a grip on the economy, both in China and Cambodia. Chinese aid and investment thereby help to consolidate a political economy based on arbitrariness, increased inequalities and violence, as well as the overlapping of positions of power and accumulation. In this regard, the analysis must take into account foreign aid not only because it competes with Chinese aid, but also since the Paris Accords it has participated – indirectly – in reinforcing Prime Minister Hun Sen’s power.