Origins of Impersonal Markets in Commercial and Communication Revolutions of Europe
79 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2017 Last revised: 28 Aug 2018
Date Written: August 25, 2018
Can technological and economic disruption alter how business fundamentally gets organized? In medieval Europe, trade depended on personal relationships, which were usually mediated by merchant guilds. I construct a dataset of medieval and early modern Europe. I argue that merchant guilds declined and impersonal markets emerged in sixteenth-century Northwestern Europe because the region benefited from two revolutions 1) the commercial revolution at the Atlantic coast and 2) the revolution in horizontal communication because of the printing press.
Keywords: Europe, Printing, Atlantic Trade, Merchant Guilds, Arm's Length Exchange, Networks
JEL Classification: N13, N23, N43, N73, N93, Z13
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