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A 'Friend and Advisor': Management, Auditors, and Confidence in Germany's Credit Cooperatives, 1889-1914

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  • Timothy W. Guinnane

    () (Economic Growth Center, Yale University)

Abstract

Economic enterprises face two, related, managerial problems: effective management of the enterprise's activities, and communicating to outsiders that the enterprise is in fact well-run. These problems were especially difficult in the credit cooperative movement that grew up in Germany in the second half of the nineteenth century. These successful cooperatives thrived because they could harness the information and ties among local people to obviate many of the problems that faced other lenders. Doing so required managers who were themselves local people. Yet few if any locals had any banking experience, and most were not even familiar with basic accounting methods. These local managers created internal management problems and enhanced outside suspicion of the cooperatives as banking enterprises. The methods developed to overcome these problems relied on a combination of local initiative and regional assistance that was typical of the movement as a whole. The movement's ability to train its own talent suggests a broader impact not captured by statistics on membership or financial assets.

Suggested Citation

  • Timothy W. Guinnane, 2001. "A 'Friend and Advisor': Management, Auditors, and Confidence in Germany's Credit Cooperatives, 1889-1914," Working Papers 824, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:824
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    File URL: http://www.econ.yale.edu/growth_pdf/cdp824.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Timothy W. Guinnane & Ingrid Henriksen, 1997. "Why Danish Credit Co-operatives were so unimportant," Discussion Papers 97-25, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    2. Naomi R. Lamoreaux, 1991. "Information Problems and Banks' Specialization in Short-Term Commercial Lending: New England in the Nineteenth Century," NBER Chapters,in: Inside the Business Enterprise: Historical Perspectives on the Use of Information, pages 161-204 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Timothy Besley & Timothy W. Guinnane, 1994. "Thy Neighbor's Keeper: The Design of a Credit Cooperative with Theory and a Test," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 491-515.
    4. Douglas W. Diamond, 1984. "Financial Intermediation and Delegated Monitoring," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(3), pages 393-414.
    5. Lamoreaux,Naomi R., 1994. "Insider Lending," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521460965, May.
    6. Guinnane, Timothy W., 1997. "Regional organizations in the German cooperative banking system in the late 19th century," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 251-274, September.
    7. Calomiris, Charles W & Kahn, Charles M, 1991. "The Role of Demandable Debt in Structuring Optimal Banking Arrangements," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 497-513, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Anaïs A Périlleux, 2010. "Maturity Mismatch and Governance of Microfinance Cooperatives: Lessons from History," Working Papers CEB 10-005.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    credit cooperative; external audit;

    JEL classification:

    • G2 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services
    • N23 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance

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