Case | HBS Case Collection | November 2003 (Revised July 2014)

Creating Global Oil, 1900-1935

by Geoffrey G. Jones and Daniel Wadhwani

Abstract

Taught in the elective MBA course entitled The Evolution of Global Business. Examines the development of an international cartel in the oil industry in the 1920s and 1930s. Focuses on the decisions and actions of the leading multinational oil companies—particularly Standard Oil of New Jersey, Royal Dutch/Shell, and Anglo-Persian (BP)—in acting together to try to stabilize prices and market shares beginning in the late 1920s through the Achnacarry or "As-is" Agreement. Set against the backdrop of the development of the global oil industry, it examines the causes of the change in firm strategy from competition to cooperation and offers an opportunity for readers to assess the success of efforts at inter-firm coordination and stabilization. Also explores the personal and professional relationships between the leading oil-industry executives who forged the cartel, including Henry Deterding, Walter Teagle, and John Cadman. Important subissues include the changing nature of the oil industry in the 1910s and 1920s, the rise of oil diplomacy, and the impact of U.S. antitrust laws on the global oil business.

Keywords: History; Competition; Multinational Firms and Management; Alliances; Cooperation; Business and Government Relations; Energy Industry;

Citation:

Jones, Geoffrey G., and Daniel Wadhwani. "Creating Global Oil, 1900-1935." Harvard Business School Case 804-089, November 2003. (Revised July 2014.)