What Is Horizontal Integration American History?

Horizontal integration is a term that is often used in American history to describe the expansion of businesses through mergers and acquisitions. It refers to the strategy of combining companies that are similar in nature, in order to create a larger, more diverse organization.

What Is Horizontal Integration?

Horizontal integration is a business strategy that involves the acquisition of companies that operate in the same industry or produce similar products. This type of integration allows companies to expand their market share and increase their competitiveness by consolidating resources and eliminating competitors.

Examples of Horizontal Integration

One famous example of horizontal integration in American history is the Standard Oil Company. Founded by John D. Rockefeller in 1870, Standard Oil became one of the most successful corporations in American history by acquiring smaller oil refineries and controlling every aspect of the oil industry from production to distribution.

Another example is the merger between Kraft Foods and Heinz in 2015. The two food companies joined forces to create a new entity called Kraft Heinz, which brought together some of the most popular food brands such as Oscar Mayer, Jell-O, Kool-Aid, and Planters.

  • Benefits of Horizontal Integration

There are several benefits to horizontal integration, including:

  • Economies of Scale: By combining resources and streamlining operations, companies can reduce costs and increase efficiency.
  • Diversification: By acquiring other companies that produce similar products or operate in related industries, organizations can diversify their product offerings and reduce their reliance on any one market.
  • Increased Market Share: By acquiring competitors or complementary businesses, organizations can expand their customer base and gain greater control over distribution channels.
  • The Downside of Horizontal Integration

    While horizontal integration can offer many benefits to businesses, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider. One of the biggest risks is that it can lead to a monopoly or oligopoly, which reduces competition and can lead to higher prices for consumers.

    Another potential downside is that the integration process itself can be costly and time-consuming. Merging two companies requires significant resources and expertise, and integrating operations can be a complex process that takes months or even years to complete.

    The Role of Government

    Given the potential risks associated with horizontal integration, the government has often played a role in regulating mergers and acquisitions. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, for example, there were several high-profile antitrust cases brought against companies like Standard Oil and the American Tobacco Company.

    Today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) are responsible for reviewing proposed mergers and acquisitions to ensure that they do not violate antitrust laws.


    Horizontal integration has been a popular business strategy throughout American history, allowing companies to expand their market share and increase their competitiveness through mergers and acquisitions. While there are many benefits to this approach, there are also potential risks, including reduced competition and increased costs associated with integration. As such, it’s important for businesses to carefully consider the pros and cons before pursuing this strategy – while also keeping an eye on government regulations that may impact their plans.