Voice of the Marketplace
A History of the National Petroleum Council
Business History
6.125 x 9.25, 312 pp.
21 line drawings.
Pub Date: 06/12/2002
Kenneth E. Montague Series in Oil and Business History
  cloth
Price:        $39.95

978-1-58544-185-3

Published by Texas A&M University Press

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Voice of the Marketplace

A History of the National Petroleum Council

By Joseph A. Pratt, William H. Becker and William M. McClenahan Jr.

The National Petroleum Council (NPC) emerged out of the close cooperation between the petroleum industry and the federal government during World War II. An industry-financed advisory committee designed to work closely with the Department of the Interior, it enjoyed a remarkable independence from political or financial pressures. Including representatives of all phases of the petroleum business, the NPC could reach deep within the industry for information on vital issues. In the last fifty-plus years, the Council has evolved into a voice of the marketplace, analyzing conditions in the petroleum industry at the request of the government and publishing its findings in reports widely considered authoritative and useful.

Three uniquely qualified historians here chronicle the development and contributions of the NPC to both the energy industry and the American market. While technological advances, skyrocketing world demand, the rise of OPEC, and far-reaching regulatory initiatives have fundamentally transformed the petroleum industry's structure and operating environment, the National Petroleum Council has remained a reliable source of authoritative information. Joseph A. Pratt, William H. Becker, and William McClenahan, Jr., analyze the choices and strategies that have given the Council the adaptability and resilience to survive and remain important.

The authors look also at the actual reports generated by the Council—more than two hundred studies to date—and the impact they have had on both government and business. They examine the NPC's ability to tap information and personnel from all sectors of the industry and to fund from industry resources studies that would have exceeded the pockets of the federal government. They consider the way the Council has managed to encompass the varied viewpoints within a diverse, highly competitive industry, and particularly to bridge the sharp historical division between the "majors" and the "independents." Finally, the authors analyze the one political concern that has remained constant for the industry: antitrust.

This engagingly written book not only sheds light on the petroleum industry and its regulatory context, but also addresses the larger questions of the U.S. government's relations with the industries it regulates.

Joseph A. Pratt is Cullen Professor of History and Business at the University of Houston. A historian of the petroleum industry, he has written several previous business histories, including three published with Texas A&M University Press. William H. Becker is Professor of History and Strategic Management and Public Policy at George Washington University. He has written several books focused on government and business. William M. (Mack) McClenahan, Jr., teaches at the University of Maryland and also serves as a research assistant for the Business History Group and an expert witness for the Department of Justice, where he prepares analyses of business-government relations for Superfund litigation.

What Readers Are Saying:

“. . . comprehensive and well-written . . . An informed reader will find gems both in what this book says and in what it does not say.” --The Journal of Energy Literature

“. . . provides a thorough and well-written history of the organization. . . . Voice of the Marketplace provides a well-researched account of the NPC, which will be of particular interest to those who were associated with the council, and to anyone interested or involved in the process of making energy policy. The study also serves as a model example to public historians of the possibilities and limitations of writing commissioned studies of public and private institutions.” --Public Historian

“...a solid, professional, and useful study.” --Journal of American History

“. . . while scholars have been writing about corporatism and business-government cooperation for some time, rarely have they had the opportunity to examine the hypothesis from within an industry body with the freedom and accessibility that has been extended to Pratt, William H. Becker, and William M. McClenahan, Jr.” --American Historical Review

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