Abstract: Evolution of the Structure of the French Oil Economy between the Wars: Toward a French Holding Company

Mohamed Sassi


During the interwar period, the French Government was able to take the necessary measures to install an integrated structure for its oil industry. On the eve of World War II, the Compagnie Française des Pétroles (CFP) had an organizational structure that could compete with the Anglo-Saxon "trusts." The characteristic of the French oil industry was its ability to go beyond a "logic of cartels" toward a model of mixed economy across the "logic of consortia." In this paper, I illuminate the French method of breaking into big business in a sector as competitive and strategic as oil. Based on technocracy, the French adopted all potentially successful organizational methods, whether French or imported. I also discuss new elements of the French companies' capacity in the interwar period to equip themselves with industrial structures different from (but comparable to) the American ones.

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