Theory, Policy, and Resource Cartels: The Case of OPEC

Davis B. Bobrow, Robert T Kudrle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Our choice of theoretical perspectives to apply to resource cartels seriously affects the questions we ask, the predictions we make, and the policy suggestions we draw. In this paper we examine the implications (and the limitations) of five perspectives for the analysis of resource cartels in general and the Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries (OPEC) in particular: the theory of cartels; the theory of depletable resources; coalition theory; internal politics approaches; and the theory of collective action. Three classes of actors are considered-exporting producers, importing consumers, and multinational resource exploitation firms. We gain in realism by proceeding from simple to more complicated situations by including political concerns, bureaucratic divisions, and the prospect of military coercion. Yet, we do so at the price of rigorous deductive frameworks with clear and coherent predictions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-56
Number of pages54
JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1976


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