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.
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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.
- 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 & Ogilvie, Sheilagh, 2003.
"Social Capital and Collusion : The Case of Merchant Guilds,"
IDEI Working Papers
214, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
- 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.
- Roberta Dessí & Sheilagh Olgivie, 2003. "Social Capital and Collusion: The Case of Merchant Guilds," CESifo Working Paper Series 1037, CESifo Group Munich.
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