This article discusses a chapter of the interwar history of the Ford Motor Company in Europe rather neglected by historians, namely its unsuccessful attempt to erect a solid base of operations in Italy. Expansion onto the Italian market had been part of the post-WWI Ford's strategy of internationalization. It seemed to go well beyond the exploitation of an additional demand as its most interesting and promising aspect was the utilization of the Italian branch as a bridgehead into the Balkans, the East Mediterranean region, the Middle East, and North-East Africa. At the beginning this strategy turned out successful. But when in the late 1920s the Company tried to strenghten its position in the country—either setting up its own assembly plant or establishing a joint venture with an Italian firm—its attempt was blocked. To date scholars have focused exclusively on the political and economic barriers to entry erected by the fascist regime, urged by the powerful Fiat lobby. This was certainly the main cause. Yet, this study shows that on several occasions Ford hesitated and even hung back from acting. There for a few chances were missed: the most glamorous being an agreement with Fiat itself, so far ignored by historiography.


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pp. 335-377
Launched on MUSE
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