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Crowding out the change: business networks and persisting economic elites in the South of Italy over Unification (1840–1880)

Maria Carmela Schisani (), Luigi Balletta and Giancarlo Ragozini
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Maria Carmela Schisani: Federico II University of Naples
Luigi Balletta: Federico II University of Naples
Giancarlo Ragozini: Federico II University of Naples

Cliometrica, 2021, vol. 15, issue 1, No 3, 89-131

Abstract: Abstract In this article, we study the effect of the Unification on the network power of economic elites in the South of Italy. We study the persistence of economic elites as evidence of the stability of the institutional set up beyond the effect of Unification, and thus as a primary explaining factor of the persistence of social forces slowing and opposing modernization. We use original archival data on the universe of Naples enterprises to build the networks of business relations between individual economic actors for the 20-year period immediately before and after Unification. The persistence of network power and its determinants is tested via a difference-in-difference model. The main finding is that economic elites persist over Unification. The long-term business relations, rooted in the Bourbon period, the persisting lobbying power of the financial industry, the close collusive ties with potential foreign competitors and the closeness to politics after 1861 are all elements that explain how the Southern economic elites were able to crowd-out the change.

Keywords: Economic elites; Social network analysis; Italian Unification; Economic history of the South of Italy in the nineteenth century (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: N23 N83 N93 L14 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1007/s11698-020-00204-3

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