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English Commercial Banks and Organizational Inertia: The Financing of SMEs, 1944–1960

  • Mae Baker and Michael Collins

This article is a study in the strength of shared strategic beliefs amongst leading British clearing bankers in the years following World War II and how those common beliefs may have inhibited potential for market growth. The subject of the study is the performance of large British deposit bankswith respect to the financing of industry. This behavior has long been criticized by economic historians as suboptimal and, depending on the commentator, has been presented variously as evidence of entrepreneurial failure, the gentrification of the City, social schism amongst the economic and social elite, the political influence of City institutions, the external orientation of capital markets, or institutional sclerosis. However, in earlier studies we have offered a rational economic explanation of the banks' behavior and practices in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

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The archives of the following major British banks have been used in the study: Barclays Bank plc, HSBC Holdings plc, LloydsTSB Group, and the Royal Bank of Scotland Group.
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Enterprise & Society
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