Brazilian oil sector reforms: The role of technical know-how and corporate ethos in Petrobras's dominance

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2018
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The literature shows that Petrobras's specialized knowledge in deep-water exploration helped it maintain its dominance of the oil sector in Brazil. This article contributes to the literature by throwing light on how this process operates: as technicians of the State enterprise monopolize the knowledge, they are called on to participate in key policy decisions for the sector, and thus exert an influence that is not counter-balanced by other experts. Also, as these technicians’ ethos identifies Petrobras's policy agenda with national interests, their participation in oil policymaking reinforces the enterprise's dominance in the sector. This case study contributes to energy policy studies by bringing to the discussion questions addressed here on the institutionalist approach, relating particularly to bureaucratic agents’ behavior and their influence as technical specialists on processes of change. It also addresses the problem of unexpected results of institutional reforms, in view of the challenges faced by governments that seek to alter regulatory frameworks. In other words, the study of a specific case of a government agency through institutional theory seeks to answer exhortations from scholars that indicate the necessity of applying institutionalist approach in the analysis of governance structures. © 2018 Elsevier Ltd


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