Related Investing: Corporate Ownership and Capital Mobilization during Early Industrialization
Scholars engage in extensive debate about the role of families and corporations in economic growth. Some propose that personal ties provide a mechanism for overcoming such transactions costs as asymmetrical information, while others regard familial connections as conduits for inefficiency, with the potential for nepotism, corruption and exploitation of other stakeholders. This empirical study is based on a unique panel dataset comprising all of the shareholders in a sample of early corporations, including information on such characteristics as gender, age, occupation, household composition, real estate holdings and personal wealth. Related investing was widespread among directors and elite shareholders, but was also pervasive among women and small shareholders. Personal ties were especially evident among ordinary investors in the newer, riskier ventures, and helped to ensure persistence in shareholding. “Outsider investors” were able to overcome a lack of experience and information by taking advantage of their own networks. The link between related investing and the concentration of ownership in these corporations suggests that this phenomenon was likely associated with a reduction in perceptions of risk, especially beneficial for capital mobilization in emerging ventures. These patterns are consistent with a more productive interpretation of related investing and its function in newly developing societies.
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