chapter  9
18 Pages

Capabilities, Entrepreneurship, and Political Direction in the Italian National Oil Company: AGIP/ENI (1926–1971)


State-owned enterprise (SOE) was one of the most important instruments of oil policy in the European industrialized countries from the 1920s onward, and in the 1970s, national oil companies were protagonists in the shift of power from consuming to producing countries. Even the more recent evolution of the oil industry, the rise of new giant-consumer countries in Asia, saw SOE as a crucial player in the new scenarios.1 The oil industry is a complex sector that requires a high level of technical and managerial capabilities. Business strategies should consider technological changes, the evolution of producing and consuming economies, geopolitical issues, social and environmental problems, and more. It is possible, to some extent, to see oil business as a test fi eld, where the interaction between economic and noneconomic goals of the SOE is dramatically exposed. The case of the oil industry in Italy is even more signifi cant because it underlines the role of SOE in the development process, the diffi culties in developing competencies adequate for a modern business in a latecomer economy, and some of the limits of the Italian model of SOE.