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Independents Abroad: the pursuit of expansion by independent oil companies into non-traditional petroleum countries

Listed author(s):
  • Gavin C. Reid
  • Torcail M. Stewart

This paper looks at oil Independents, and potential disabilities on organizational performance which may arise when internationalization is contemplated. The evidence used is field work based, and uses sub-samples of British and North American oil Independents. It is argued, on the basis of grounded evidence, from field work interviews, that companies which do not internationalize, may be constrained by resource weaknesses, rather than by satisfactory strength within domestic territories alone. These weaknesses may rise from an unwillingness to confront the ambiguity of rules, regulations and mores of non-Western countries. Personal attitudes, beliefs, political affiliations, spheres of influence, and so on, may be more important to success in non-Western territories, than more familiar notions of business strategy and organizational competence. This is because, in the ‘non-ideal’ functioning of the non-Western context, decisions are relationship based, rather than based on formal modes of selection. It is shown how Independents have an advantage over Majors in decision-making speed, the authority to commit, the seniority of personnel and the establishment of relationships. This translates into relative success in applying for licenses in non-Western countries. Because of such capabilities, the Independents are more able to target non-traditional, under-explored overseas areas. Indeed, they display an active willingness to engage with countries in which they will encounter relatively high political and/or security risks (e.g. as rated by the IMF Political Stability index).

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Paper provided by Centre for Research into Industry, Enterprise, Finance and the Firm in its series CRIEFF Discussion Papers with number 0507.

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Date of creation: Jun 2005
Handle: RePEc:san:crieff:0507
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School of Economics and Finance, University of St. Andrews, Fife KY16 9AL

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  1. Otto Andersen, 1993. "On the Internationalization Process of Firms: A Critical Analysis," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 24(2), pages 209-231, June.
  2. Shang-Jin Wei, 1997. "How Taxing is Corruption on International Investors?," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 63, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  3. L. J. Bourgeois, III & Kathleen M. Eisenhardt, 1988. "Strategic Decision Processes in High Velocity Environments: Four Cases in the Microcomputer Industry," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 34(7), pages 816-835, July.
  4. Paolo Mauro, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712.
  5. Vickers,Douglas, 1987. "Money Capital in the Theory of the Firm," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521328418, December.
  6. Bernadette Power & Gavin Reid, 2005. "Flexibility, Firm-Specific Turbulence and the Performance of the Long-lived Small Firm," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 26(4), pages 415-443, 06.
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