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Historisk tidskrift 127:2 • 2007

Innehåll (Contents) 2007:2

Uppsatser (Articles)

Samarbete och konkurrens. Arabia och Rörstrand under ett sekel

Susanna Fellman

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Cooperation and Competition: Arabia and Rörstrand during one century

A rapid integration between Finnish and Swedish business has occurred during the last decade. Cooperation and integration between companies from these two countries are no new phenomena, however, but have a long history due to the close institutional and historical roots of the countries. This article investigates the joint history of two porcelain factories: the Finnish Arabia and the Swedish Rörstrand. Although a unique relationship due to its intensity and longevity, it nevertheless has many characteristics typical of Swedish–Finnish company cooperation of today.

The shared history of these two factories started with the foundation of Arabia by Rörstrand in 1874 and lasted until 2005, when production in Rörstrand was closed down. In this article the period under investigation is from 1874 until 1983, when Rörstrand and Arabia were united within the same Finnish business group. The main focus is first on the inter-war period, when Arabia for a few years was the main owner of the Swedish Rörstrand; second, on the aftermath of this interval, third, on the plans for an extensive porcelain cartel between Swedish and Finnish producers after the Second World War; and, finally, on the foundation of a joint enterprise, Arabia-Rörstrand, in the 1970s. Often troublesome, these phases in the history of the two companies reveal many features that have been persistent and typical for Finnish–Swedish company cooperation. For example, although industrial cooperation between these two countries has been fairly successful, elements of conflict and competition are observed in the companies’ joint ventures. The rationale behind cooperation was often that the companies would be better equipped to meet foreign competition and increase competitiveness on export markets by joining forces. Cooperation was also supposed to lead to synergy and rationalisation gains. However, through cooperation, for example by cartel type agreements, both sides also aimed to control the other company’s activities on the domestic market. This was the main source for often long-lasting and bitter conflicts. Similar developments can be seen in present day cooperation.


history, company cooperation, ceramic industry, Finland, Sweden