and the Study of
International Political Economy
What determines the cooperative behavior among the oil-producing countries? That was the research question spelled out at the beginning of this study. The answer provided over the pages between the introduction and this conclusion is a complex story, as many factors influence the cooperation between the oil producers. The conclusions drawn in the different chapters have been conditional, as variables discussed in other chapters have been taken as constants. This chapter aims at drawing the findings of the different chapters together, and relate them to the study of International Political Economy (IPE).
Chapter 2 introduced the concepts "market structure" and "market power." The structure was defined as having a horizontal and a vertical dimension, while market power was defined as the ability of a group of market actors to influence the oil price or conditions for price-setting. The distribution of market power in the international oil market was related to three groups of actors: the international oil companies, the consuming countries, and the oil producers. The relationship between actors' behavior and the market structure was perceived as dynamic, since what actors do at t1 may change aspects of the market structure in a way that constrains the actors' behavior at t2. The argument in Chapter 2 was that the structure, the other actors' behavior, and the dynamic relationship between market structure and market behavior constrained the possibility of establishing successful cooperation between the oil producers. 1 The dynamics between oil-producer cooperation and such structural changes is further developed below.