Västsvensk petroleumindustri 1945-2000 : etablering och tillväxt
Doctoral thesis, 2004
The purpose of the study has been to describe and analyse the establishment and growth of the petroleum industry in western Sweden during the second half of the twentieth century. Empirical data shows that the development of refineries has in large part been governed by environmental changes where belonging to an international concern with large financial resources, and a determined investment in FoU in order to be at the forefront, has been advantageous. Alternative operations in the form of sales of waste heat have provided the companies with sound profits.
For the petrochemical industry in Stenungsund the environmental aspects have in effect amounted to prohibitions and restrictions. Generally business development has been characterised by successive expansion, refined processes, increased accessibility and reliability as well as increased flexibility of raw materials, which has required increased financial resources. Merging into increasingly larger units and multi-national ownership has been the result.
The analysis has demonstrated that market development, characterised by an increased demand for fuel and petrochemical products, has been a vital precondition for expansion. Changes as a result of oil crises and investment in nuclear power have had significant consequences for the companies strategy and structure. Changes in ownership have had a crucial impact on the transfer of technology, which has been essential for the companies long-term development.
Innovations, in the form of new products, has contributed to a positive market development. Process innovations have increased the productivity of plants, which have been essential for their ability to compete. Organisational innovations have improved companies ability to exploit technical innovations. The study illustrates Chandlers theory that technical and organisational changes are each others pre-conditions. The petrochemical industry is powerfully influenced by institutional circumstances. Government means of control such as legislation, taxation and subsidies have proved essential for both establishment and continued development.
The study confirms earlier statements that the changes which companies and businesses are exposed to, do not unequivocally act as threats or opportunities. The decisive factor is how the individual company perceives and manages the immediate changes. Treating it as an opportunity is the prerequisite for making positive use of the change, which is ably illustrated by the petroleum industry of western Sweden.