Numerous studies have suggested that natural resource abundance is bad for development. In this context, Indonesia's rapid growth during the 1970s and 1980s seems remarkable. Why was Indonesia able to grow strongly and what are the implications of its experience for other resource abundant countries? I argue that its rapid growth was not simply a matter of policy elites making rational economic policy choices, but rather reflected two more fundamental factors: (i) the political victory of counter-revolutionary social forces over radical nationalist and communist social forces in Indonesia during the 1960s; and (ii) the country's strategic Cold War location and proximity to Japan. Accordingly, the main implication of its experience is that improved economic performance in resource abundant countries requires shifts in structures of power and interest and the emergence of external political and economic conditions that provide opportunities for growth.
Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 37, No. 1, February 2007, pp. 38 - 58