The Governance of Benedictine Abbeys from an Economic Perspective

33 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2008 Last revised: 10 Oct 2008

See all articles by Inauen Emil

Inauen Emil

University of Zurich

Bruno S. Frey

CREMA; University of Basel

Date Written: September 2008


Compared to other institutions, Benedictine monasteries show an extraordinary stability. We use a dataset of all Benedictine abbeys that ever existed in Bavaria, Baden-W¿rttemberg and German-speaking Switzerland to determine their lifespan and the reasons that led to their closures. The studied monasteries show an average lifetime of almost 500 years and only a quarter of them dissolved as a result of agency problems. Governance mechanisms are then analyzed in detail. We argue that the success of Benedictine monasteries is due to an appropriate governance structure that strongly relies on internal control mechanisms.

By analyzing monasteries from an economic perspective, a new approach is offered to understand these monastic institutions and their role as pioneers of governance. The theoretical foundations are based upon principal agency theory, psychological economics, as well as embeddedness theory.

Note: Downloadable document is in German.

Keywords: Monasteries, Benedictine Order, Corporate Governance, Principal-Agency-Theory, Psychological Economics

JEL Classification: D73, G3, L14, Z12

Suggested Citation

Emil, Inauen and Frey, Bruno S., The Governance of Benedictine Abbeys from an Economic Perspective (September 2008). Available at SSRN: or

Inauen Emil (Contact Author)

University of Zurich ( email )

Rämistrasse 71
Zürich, CH-8006

Bruno S. Frey

CREMA ( email )

Südstrasse 11
Zurich, CH 8008
+41 44 380 00 78 (Phone)

University of Basel ( email )

Peter Merian-Weg 6
Basel, 4002

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics