How does relationship-based governance accommodate new entrants? Evidence from the cycle rickshaw rental market
A large theoretical and empirical literature suggests that the salience of network-based ties in contract enforcement under relation-based governance systems limits market expansion. This paper illustrates the incorporation of new agents into market exchange under conditions of informal contract governance using a case study of the cycle-rickshaw rental market in a city in central India. Our analytical model formalizes features of this market through a higher penalty of default for migrants that introduces a gap between the ex ante risk for out-of-network agents and the ex post risk. The model predicts a sorting equilibrium such that migrants are more likely to participate in the rental contract. We test this prediction using primary survey data with multidimensional measures of migrant status and find that it is a significant predictor of rental contract participation, even controlling for credit access and other variables that moderate the rickshaw driver’s ability to own a cycle-rickshaw.
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