John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil

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Standard Oil Trust

Mark D. Urbon

Southern New Hampshire University

ABSTRACT

This paper answers the questions from page 82 of our text with a focus on J.D. Rockefeller’s company “Standard Oil”

STANDARD OIL TRUST

Question 1: With reference to the levels and spheres of corporate power discussed in the chapter, how did the power of Standard Oil change society? Was this power exercised in keeping with the social contract of Rockefeller’s era?

Answer: Standard Oil changed society in reference to levels and spheres of corporate power in terms of economic power by its ability to buy out competitors and close down refineries and on a deeper level it provided stability in the prices of oil and also produced a consistent product that people could rely upon for safety reasons as competitor products were unreliable and often mistrusted. From a technological power stance Standard Oil heavily influenced the transportation rates to tip them in the company’s favor and further pressure competitors to spend more money for the same service. Cultural power was shown by standard oil to change society to in a positive manner allowing households to be lit up at night which is a direct result of more enriched lives.

Standard Oil’s power was not exercised in keeping with the social contract of that time. While there were not laws in effect at that time to say Rockefeller was behaving unethically it is obvious by the manner in which he managed to bankrupt and buy out competitors by tipping the market in his favor to arrive at the conclusion he did violate the social contract of his era. “These anticompetitive practices of rebates and predatory pricing forced competitors to sell their operations to Rockefeller, their only alternative to going out of business. It was if he was holding a gun to their heads”. (Epstein, 2008)

Question 4: In the Utilitarian sense of accomplishing...
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