In this introduction, we present the research-guiding questions on which this book is based. Subsequently we review the resource curse literature by putting emphasis on the ways in which resource dependency affects institutions. We criticize this perspective for forecasting doom for a wide range of (otherwise dissimilar) countries, namely those that lack a robust institutional framework when the extractive sector starts to boom. We then discuss the literature concerned with institutional analysis, which has only rarely been connected to the discussion on the resource curse. In order to build up a comprehensive perspective on the agents that can promote change and the instruments they use, we add to the literature of institutional analysis insights from policy studies and the contentious politics/social movements literature. On this basis, we elaborate a four-field matrix of agents of institutional change. Each field will be discussed briefly with empirical evidence stemming from an external literature review and the new contributions of the chapters of this book. In the subsequent section, we explore institutional performance in the region stressing those factors that constrain the new institutions from reaching their full effect. We finish by clarifying our central concepts—resource curse, institutions, institutional change, and performance—by presenting the objectives of the book, its organization, as well as short summaries of each of its chapters.