Intermediaries of Cartelization: The Regional Circuits of the Norwegian and Swedish Brewery Cartels, 1906-1956

Nya Fest Session 7: Levels of Cartelization: Scandinavian Perspectives on the Role Cartelization in Business Development organized by Kasper Hage Stjern


Kasper Hage Stjern


A key issue in cartel research is identifying what aids, or hinders, cartel survival and success. Researchers have highlighted factors such as market conditions, types of goods produced, barriers to entry, and the problem of dissuading cheating through trust. However, a recurring issue has been the lack, or small extent, of surviving material concerning the inside proceedings of cartels concerning their daily administration and allocation of resources. This paper is a comparative, qualitative empirical study that utilizes the extensive archives of the Norwegian and Swedish brewery cartels and their regional sub-units called “circuits” to provide a valuable insight into the daily life of the two cartels and how members vied for influence and resources. Cartel theory is used as an analytical framework. Each cartel was divided into several circuits which had their own administrative apparatus, right of taxing members, and archives. The circuits’ meeting minutes and correspondence are examined to identify how members negotiated and pushed for influencing the national cartel board through their regional circuits. The paper finds that the circuits functioned as intermediaries between the national cartel board and individual members. The national board utilized the circuits for investigating cheating and communicating with members, while members could organize their regional interests to push back against larger and more influential members.


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