Social Capital and Collusion: The Case of Merchant Guilds
AbstractMerchant guilds have been portrayed as ‘social networks’ that generated beneficial ‘social capital’ by sustaining shared norms, effectively transmitting information, and successfully undertaking collective action. This social capital, it is claimed, benefited society as a whole by enabling rulers to commit to providing a secure trading environment for alien merchants. But was this really the case? We develop a new model of the emergence, rise and eventual decline of European merchant guilds which explores the collusive relationship between rulers and guilds, and calls into question the prevailing positive view of merchant guilds. We then confront the model’s predictions with the available historical data. The empirical evidence strongly support our model and refutes existing theories. Our findings show that merchant guilds used their social capital for socially harmful as well as beneficial ends.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge in its series Cambridge Working Papers in Economics with number 0417.
Date of creation: Mar 2004
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merchant guilds; collusion; social capital; social networks; monopoly;
Other versions of this item:
- Dessi, Roberta & Ogilvie, Sheilagh, 2003. "Social Capital and Collusion : The Case of Merchant Guilds," IDEI Working Papers 214, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
- Roberta Dessí & Sheilagh Olgivie, 2003. "Social Capital and Collusion: The Case of Merchant Guilds," CESifo Working Paper Series 1037, CESifo Group Munich.
- N73 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Europe: Pre-1913
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- Edward L. Glaeser & David Laibson & Bruce Sacerdote, 2002. "An Economic Approach to Social Capital," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 437-458, November.
- Oliver Volckart & Antje Mangels, 1999. "Are the Roots of the Modern Lex Mercatoria Really Medieval?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 65(3), pages 427-450, January.
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- Lopez, Robert Sabatino, 1943. "European Merchants in the Medieval Indies: The Evidence of Commercial Documents," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(02), pages 164-184, November.
- Dessi, Roberta & Piccolo, Salvatore, 2009.
"Two is Company, N is a Crowd? Merchant Guilds and Social Capital,"
IDEI Working Papers
529, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised Jun 2013.
- Dessí, Roberta & Piccolo, Salvatore, 2009. "Two is Company, N is a Crowd? Merchant Guilds and Social Capital," CEPR Discussion Papers 7374, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Roberta Dessì & Salvatore Piccolo, 2008. "Two is Company, N is a Crowd? Merchant Guilds and Social Capital," CSEF Working Papers 202, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy, revised 12 Jul 2009.
- Dessi, Roberta & Piccolo, Salvatore, 2009. "Two is Company, N is a Crowd? Merchant Guilds and Social Capital," TSE Working Papers 09-059, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Jun 2013.
- Sheilagh Ogilvie, 2007. "'Whatever Is, Is Right'?, Economic Institutions in Pre-Industrial Europe (Tawney Lecture 2006)," CESifo Working Paper Series 2066, CESifo Group Munich.
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