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Does Function Follow Organzizational Form? Evidence From the Lending Practices of Large and Small Banks

  • Allen N. Berger
  • Nathan H. Miller
  • Mitchell A. Petersen
  • Raghuram G. Rajan
  • Jeremy C. Stein

Theories based on incomplete contracting suggest that small organizations may do better than large organizations in activities that require the processing of soft information. We explore this idea in the context of bank lending to small firms, an activity that is typically thought of as relying heavily on soft information. We find that large banks are less willing than small banks to lend to informationally “difficult†credits, such as firms that do not keep formal financial records. Moreover, controlling for the endogeneity of bank-firm matching, large banks lend at a greater distance, interact more impersonally with their borrowers, have shorter and less exclusive relationships, and do not alleviate credit constraints as effectively. All of this is consistent with small banks being better able to collect and act on soft information than large banks. The opinions in this paper do not necessarily reflect those of the Federal Reserve Board or its staff. This work has been supported by the National Science Foundation (Rajan, Stein), and the George J. Stigler Center for Study of the State and Economy (Rajan). Thanks also to seminar participants at Yale, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Tulane, Babson, the University of Illinois, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Bank Structure Conference, the NBER and the Western Finance Association meetings, as well as to Abhijit Banerjee, Michael Kremer, David Scharfstein, Andrei Shleifer, Greg Udell, Christopher Udry and James Weston for helpful comments and suggestions.

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Paper provided by Harvard - Institute of Economic Research in its series Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers with number 1976.

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Date of creation: 2002
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Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:1976
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