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Land Research Group: Institutions, Conflicts, Property Rights (ICP-L)

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The research group analyzes land use conflicts in the context of large-scale technology investments from an interdisciplinary political economy perspective. In recent years, large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs) have altered land-based property rights in many transition and developing countries. Promoters conceive LSLAs as a strategy to alleviate poverty through international transfer of capital and technology, increased productivity and new markets. In contrast, critics use the term "land grabbing" to refer to elite capture, loss of local livelihoods and cultural values, increased food insecurity, structural and physical violence and human rights violations as consequences of LSLAs. The many varieties of the “new rush for land” continue to challenge the development of middle-range theories that would explain divergent trajectories and outcomes of LSLAs.

Thus, LSLA research is inconclusive about local, national and international governance options that would secure efficient, fair and legitimate use and transactions of land rights. The research group adopts a political economy framework that integrates approaches from institutional economics, conflict economics, political science, peace and conflict research and sociology. In theoretical, experimental and econometric studies as well as in-depth case studies, the researchers analyze causes, dynamics and outcomes of conflictive land claims in the context of large-scale technology investments in order to develop governance options for more legitimate, fair and efficient land use.



National Partners

International Partners

  • Prof. Dr. Gerald Pech, KIMEP, Kazachstan.
  • Prof. Dr. Silvia Núñez García, UNAM/CISAM, Mexico.
  • Prof. Dr. Stéphan Sberro, ITAM, Mexico.
  • Ass. Prof. Dr. Galina Zaharieva, University Svishtov/ International Economics, Bulgaria.
  • Dr. Jampel Dell'Angelo, SESYNC, University of Maryland, US and Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop for Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University, US.
  • Raffaele Bertini M.Sc., University of Florence, Italy.


Ongoing projects


  • Interdisciplinary Workshop Large-scale land acquisitions between resource conflicts and sustainable rural development, Freiburg, 17. November 2015, at the Arnold Bergsträsser Institute Freiburg . Link
  • The Political Economy of Land Grabbing (Oct. 2013 - May 2015, funded by Innovationsfonds Forschung, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg).

Research papers

  • Land Grabbing as a Land Seeking Contest: Conflictual globalization or stable social contracts?
  • Institutional Diagnostics of land conflicts in large-scale land acquisitions.
  • The role of institutions and corruption in large-scale land acquisitions.
  • Conflict strategies in large-scale land acquisitions in Bulgaria.
  • India's role in global land acquisition.
  • Large-scale land acquisitions and regional water conflict dynamics in Ethiopia.


Special Issue

  • "The Political Economy of Land Grabbing" (Special Issue in Homo Oeconomicus, 2015).


Conferences and Presentations

  • Kamski, B. (2015): The ‘water-mechanism’ of agricultural investments in Ethiopia’s South Omo Zone. Paper presented at the Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty 2015: Linking Land Tenure and Use for Shared Properity, August 23-27, 2015, Washington DC.
  • Co-organization of the panel  Land & Water Resources in a Regional Context: Opportunities, Challenges and Hazards at the 19th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES) Warsaw, August 24-28, 2015. Link


Current Bachelor and Master Theses

  • Barriers and Opportunities for Adaption to Climate and Land-use Change: The Water Crisis in Greater Sao Paulo ( Masters Thesis Ana Helena Alves Palermo Cavalcante) 
  • Land Grabbing in Brasilien – Eine ökonomische Analyse der Chancen und Risiken (Bachelor Thesis Christoph Bühler).



  • Cavalcante, A.H. (2015): Barriers and Opportunities for Climate Adaptation: The Water Crisis in Greater São Paulo, CEN Paper No. 04-2015. Link
  • Diergarten, Y. and Krieger,T. (2015): Large-Scale Land Acquisitions,Commitment Problems and International Law, in: Law and Development Review; 8(1): 217–233 Link
  • Bujko, M., Fischer, C., Krieger, T., Meierrieks, D. (2015): How Institutions Shape Land Deals: The Role of Corruption. CESifo Working Paper No. 5178 (January 2015). Download
  • Kamski, B. (2015): Wasser- & Landressourcen: Implikationen von Landtransaktionen auf Wasserkonflikte, in: Jäger, T. (ed.) Sicherheitsgefahren. Globale Gesellschaft und internationale Beziehungen (p. 83-92). Berlin, Heidelberg, Wiesbaden: Springer VS. Link
  • Kamski, B. (2015): Books Review: Englert, Gärber ( eds.)  Landgrabbing - Landnahmen in historischer und globaler Perspektive, in PERIPHERIE 138/ 139 (2015) : 382-384 . Link


Conferences and Presentations (completed)


Think Ordo! Blog


Completed Courses

  • The Political Economy of Land Grabbing (Seminar, Wintersemester 2013/14)


Completed Master and Bachelor Theses

  • A Conflict-theoretic Perspective on Land-use Conflicts and the Resource Course in Tanzania (Masterarbeit Aristide Tumaini).
  • Land-use conflicts at the food-energy nexus. Institutional Analysis, sustainability appraisal and Agrophotovoltaic as a mitigation strategy (Master Thesis Ines Zangl, in cooperation with Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems).
  • Internationale Landinvestitionen in Subsahara-Afrika: Potenzieller Entwicklungsmotor oder ausbeutendes "Land Grabbing"? Eine Metaanalyse unter dem Gesichtspunkt der nachhaltigen Ernährungssicherheit (Master Thesis Thomas Absmayr).
  • Die “Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure“ der UN-FAO als Instrument zur Regulierung von Land Grabbing: eine ordnungsökonomische Analyse (Bachelor Thesis Alexandra Mayer)
  • Landnahme als Instrument zur Entwicklung armer Länder: eine neoklassische Analyse (Bachelor Thesis Christian Fischer).
  • Der Fluch natürlicher Ressourcen und Landgrabbing – zwei verwandte Problemstellungen? (Bachelor Thesis Matthias Bujko).


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