Multinational corporations
: Friends or foes of peace? Multinational corporations and state capture in Colombia

  • Fabian Espejo Fandino

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis is structured in seven chapters. Chapter one includes a brief introduction and presents a literature review that describes, summarises and analyses three different segments of literature I have taxonomised among a broad collection of research papers and books written by academics and policymakers referring to the role played by corporations, particularly MNCs, in the socio-economic development of the countries facing armed conflicts. It provides a clear indication of research gaps within and between these different sets of literature in order to elucidate the central contributions of this thesis.

The second chapter develops a theoretical framework of state capture and its potential effects on conflict and is organised into six sections. The first section, explores different elements to shape a definition of state capture; section two elucidates the main actors involved in the state capture process when MNCs play the role of captor; the third section draws the attention to some legal mechanisms through which MNCs may configure socio-political networks facilitating their role as captors; the fourth section describes possible pathways through which state capture may occur; section five highlight factors encouraging MNCs to play the role of captor in societies in which systems of violence are entrenched, and finally, section six establishes a criterion to identify the impact of state capture on conflict.

Chapter three introduces the Colombian case foreshadowing the case study chapters. The chapter outlines the role of the MNCs in the country dating back to early 20th century and it is used to frame a discussion of case selection, both at the level of the country case and of the cases used in the chapters that follow. The chapter also discusses the history of state capture using a reference to the origins of the Banana Republic and it leads up to a discussion of the persistence of corruption and violence over the decades that followed.

Through chapters four to six, this thesis analyses three episodes (embedded sub-cases or sub-units of analysis) within the Colombian single-case study (holistic case), in which MNCs have engaged in attempts to influence and capture the state or have effectively influenced and captured the state impacting the Colombian conflict. This thesis analyses how these MNCs deployed their power to influence the public decisionmaking system in their private benefit through the employment of different mechanisms that worsened symptoms of structural violence such as the deprivation of people’s socio-political and environmental rights.

Finally, based on the findings of my fieldwork, the final chapter summarises key points and makes some reflections on policy implications and other relevant issues in order to provide some recommendations to address state capture.
Date of AwardJul 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsNewton Fund
SupervisorAndrew Thomson (Supervisor) & Stefan Andreasson (Supervisor)


  • corruption
  • state capture
  • multinational corporations
  • Colombia
  • violence
  • conflict
  • peace building
  • Ruggie Principles
  • human rights

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