Ainsley Elbra’s article, ‘Interests Need Not be Pursued If They Can be Created: Private Governance in African Gold Mining’, published in Business and Politics, stands out in winning the inaugural 2015 Australian International Political Economy Network (AIPEN) — Richard Higgott Journal Article Prize because of the exceptionally sophisticated manner it weaves theoretical innovation with skilful data collection. It uses primary data gathered through field research to make an original and significant intervention in an important debate in International Political Economy (IPE) on the role of private actors in governance. The paper does an excellent job of taking sophisticated concepts from current debates in the theoretical literature about globalisation and private authority and matching these with carefully gathered primary source material in such a way as to both advance scholarship and generate policy-relevant insights for Africa, and by extension Australia also. Elbra shows that the discursive power of firms in the governance of the mining industry is more significant than their mere structural power, as traditionally conceived in IPE scholarship. In sum, the article achieves an advanced level of discussion, subtly but successfully centralising a discourse approach without making this overbearing for the uninitiated. With broad appeal, the article speaks to a community that includes students, intellectuals, and private actors themselves. We congratulate Ainsley Elbra in receiving the 2015 AIPEN Richard Higgott Journal Article Prize.
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