Abstract: Multinational Corporations, Business Groups, and Economic Nationalism: Standard Oil (New Jersey), Royal Dutch-Shell, and Energy Politics in Chile, 1913-2005

Marcelo Bucheli


This paper analyzes the long-term strategies of multinational oil corporations in the face of economic nationalism in a late industrializing country with powerful business groups. By studying the case of Chile (1913-2005), I show that the oil multinationals controlled 100 percent of the Chilean market until forced by the government to accept a domestic private company (COPEC) in the cartel. In the long term, this arrangement proved to be beneficial for the multinationals. COPEC's involvement with the Chilean business groups provided the multinationals with protection against government hostile actions and gave legitimacy to the cartel. These benefits ended when Chile abandoned its import substitution industrialization strategy in the 1970s.