Social Capital and Collusion: The Case of Merchant Guilds
Merchant 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.
|Date of creation:||Mar 2004|
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- 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.
- Dessi, R. & Ogilvie, S., 2004. "Social Capital and Collusion: The Case of Merchant Guilds," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0417, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
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- Ogilvie, Sheilagh, 2003. "A Bitter Living: Women, Markets, and Social Capital in Early Modern Germany," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198205548.
- Joel Sobel, 2002. "Can We Trust Social Capital?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 139-154, March.
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