Proposal preview

International Cartels in the 19th and 20th century: National Perspectives

International cartel agreements have been observed in many international markets and countries. In the past, agreements (or alliances) among firms from different countries have divided up markets and sources of raw materials, established monopoly prices, exploited patents, and taken other steps to obtain maximum profits. Their presence, often in markets for commodities and agricultural products can influence not only the price and quantity of goods traded, but can shape the regulations and laws in of the countries in which they operate. National governments have reacted to their presence either defensively (prohibiting agreements, erecting barriers, promoting local firms) or positively (by encouraging cartels links to local economies).
This session draws together researchers from several countries to examine a range of international cartels from different national perspectives. Our focus is on the impact of international cartels and their agreements on the experience of individual countries, and those nations’ interactions with one or more international cartels and with the international community. Examples in this session will be drawn particularly from cartels in the agricultural and commodity markets that emerged in the mid to late 19th century and continued (in some cases) deep into the 20th century.
The researchers listed below intend to cover a range of aspects relating to international cartels including:
• What was the extent of international cartelization in global markets in the late 19th and early 20th century?
• Were international cartels able to influence the price or quantity of goods traded in their markets? If so, buy how much?
• How did national governments perceive international cartels and their effects on the domestic market? This can be assumed to have varied in case the cartels were seen as a threat for the domestic producers, or if domestic firms could take advantage by participating? What were their policies towards the domestic firms/cartels in participating in international cartels.
• What was the role of international agencies and collaborations in addressing the international cartels and their effects?
• Were the international cartels able to influence the rules and regulations relating to competition or trade in the countries where they operated? If so where and how?
• Did national government try to influence the international community to act positively or negatively to the presence or activities of international cartels?
• Did some national governments ‘take the lead’ in influencing international regulatory bodies? Which nations were most energetic or least energetic at the international level?


  • Susanna Fellman, Gothenburg University,,
  • Martin P Shanahan, University of South Australia,, Australia

Session members

  • Marco Bertilorenzi, Université Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne, France,
  • Malin Dahlström, University of Gothenburg,
  • Joost Dankers, Utrecht University,
  • Bram Bouwens, Utrecht University,
  • Elina Kuorelahti, University of Helsinki,
  • Holm Arno Leonhardt , Universität Hildesheim, Germany,
  • Toshitaka Nagahiro, Wakayama University, Japan,
  • Takafumi Kurosawa, Kyoto University, Japan,
  • Eva-Maria Roelevink, Ruhr-Universität Bochum,
  • Brian Shaev, University of Gothenburg,
  • Espen Storli , Norwegian University of Science and Technology ,
  • Pål Sandvik, Norwegian University of Science and Technology ,

Proposed discussant(s)

  • Jeffrey Fear, University of Glasgow,