Teaching Note | HBS Case Collection | October 2012

Liberia (TN)

by Eric Werker and Ian Cornell


From 1989 to 2003 civil war raged in Liberia, causing GDP per capita to drop an unprecedented 90% from peak to trough. The roots of Liberia's conflict and economic decline are complex and intertwined, resting on over a century of discriminatory elite rule and twisted by ethnic politics during a military dictatorship. By late 2011, eight years of post-conflict government have restored basic order, re-opened the country to foreign investors, and jump-started the small economy. But the country's business model may unsettle its political stability. As Africa's first democratically elected female head of state (and a recipient of the Nobel peace prize) Ellen Johnson Sirleaf goes into her reelection campaign for Liberia's presidency, she must decide how to keep the country on its fragile but quick recovery, sowing the seeds for peace and prosperity rather than renewed conflict. Liberia examines the transition of a country from violent military rule, through devastating conflict, to post-conflict recovery and stable democratic governance. Liberia is a useful country in which to examine the rebuilding of an economy after a war, particularly since the country's economic structure and its politics are so inter-connected.

Keywords: Transition; Economic Systems; War; Economy; Government and Politics; Liberia;


Werker, Eric, and Ian Cornell. "Liberia (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 713-001, October 2012.