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The profits of power: Commerce and realpolitik in Eurasia


  • Rawi Abdelal


Although the energy trade is the single most important element of nearly all European countries' relations with Russia, Europe has been divided by both worldview and practice. Why, in the face of the common challenge of dependence on imported Russian gas, have national reactions to such vulnerability varied so dramatically across the continent? And why have a handful of French, German, and Italian corporations somehow taken responsibility for formulating the energy strategy - and thus the Russia policy - for essentially all of Europe? The resolutions of these two puzzles are, I show, interlinked; they also demand theoretical innovation. With several case studies - of Gazprom's decision-making during the 2006 and 2009 gas crises, and of the response of western and central Europe to their gas dependence - I find that: firms are driving these political outcomes; those firms are motivated by profits but employ sociological conventions along their ways; and firms generally seek the necessary inter-firm, cross-border cooperation that will deliver corporate performance. Finally, I conclude that the field will ultimately require a framework that puts firms at its center.

Suggested Citation

  • Rawi Abdelal, 2013. "The profits of power: Commerce and realpolitik in Eurasia," Review of International Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(3), pages 421-456, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rripxx:v:20:y:2013:i:3:p:421-456
    DOI: 10.1080/09692290.2012.666214

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Herrigel, Gary, 2010. "Manufacturing Possibilities: Creative Action and Industrial Recomposition in the United States, Germany, and Japan," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199557738, November.
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    4. Stern, Jonathan, 2005. "The Future of Russian Gas and Gazprom," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780197300312, November.
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    1. Dastan, Seyit Ali, 2018. "Negotiation of a cross-border natural gas pipeline: An analytical contribution to the discussions on Turkish Stream," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 749-760.
    2. Belyi, Andrei V., 2016. "Why is the oil price not about equilibrium?: An economic sociology account of petroleum markets," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 45-49.
    3. Austvik, Ole Gunnar, 2016. "The Energy Union and security-of-gas supply," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 372-382.
    4. Babic, Milan & Dixon, Adam & Fichtner, Jan, 2021. "Varieties of state capital: What does foreign state-led investment do in a globalized world?," OSF Preprints tm82g, Center for Open Science.

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