Managers, Firms and (Secret) Social Networks: The Economics of Freemasonry

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This paper studies the relationships between managers’ a¢ liations with Freema- sonry and companies' performance. Using a unique data set of 410 companies quoted on the London Stock Exchange between 1895 and 1902, I find that Masonic managers were associated with greater access to credit in small and young companies whose se- curities where traded over the counter. These companies earned higher profits, but the effect is not statistically significant. On the other hand, large publicly quoted corpora- tions that were managed by Freemasons did not obtain greater access to credit; they had lower profiys and lower Tobin's Q. These findings help to understand how social networks are related to companies' performances. Although social networks help to resolve agency problems between lenders and borrowers in firms that have difficulties in obtaining debt finance, in larger publicly quoted companies they are associated with worse agency conflicts between managers and shareholders and with worse economic performance.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
Number of pages58
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Publication series

NameCentER Discussion Paper


  • Freemasons
  • Social Networks
  • Access to Credit


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