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Debt, Credit and Business Strategy: The Law and the Local Economy, 1850-1900

By Neil Wood


This thesis analyses the business strategies of small firms in Leicester between 1850 and\ud 1900. As the expansion of the town and the local economy proceeded during the nineteenth century, the uncertainties over debt and credit faced by small firms escalated.\ud Confronted by partial or information asymmetry, small firms developed responses and strategies to overcome their commercial anxieties. This thesis explores two important strands: firstly the way in which the County Court system developed and was re-orientated by firms to meet their needs and, secondly, through the formation of a trade protection society to improve the flow of information, collect debt and enhance members' interests. In order to investigate these strategies, the procedures, costs and scale of the County Court system are considered and business exposure to the courts reconstructed. These reveal a consciousness about how the civil law could be used to prioritise debt and credit. Furthermore the trade protection society's position as a credit nexus, facilitating the flow of information between firms and its activities as an exemplar of market practice is investigated. The hand to mouth existence of many of these small firms reinforces the importance of these business strategies. While conducted as a case study of Leicester, the work has relevance for towns and cities of the U. K. and provides a counter-balance to those studies which focus on large-scale enterprises and macroeconomic forces

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 1999
OAI identifier:

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