1999 - Volume 40 > Numéro 3

ISSN 0035-2969

Confidence and accumulation of social capital in the regulation of credit activities

pp. 559-586


When a bank grants credit it is taking a risk : that of the borrower not paying back his debt. To clear this doubt, banks have defined instrumental assessment methods based on a number of objective elements to measure the risk. The analysis of banker practice indicates the limits of these methods. To obtain necessary informations for assessment and to reduce the asymmetry of information between lenders and borrowers, bank advisers are going to develop social networks, build links of trust and accumulate social capital. The quality of the social link determines the quality of the information obtained and therefore that of risk assessment. Aware of the limits of the instrumental methods and of the importance of social risk assessment, bank managers, in order to improve their economic efficiency, are going to modify their work organization and their management methods in order to favour the emergence of a link of trust and social capital accumulation with their bank advisers. The deconstruction of the views of actors involved in credit activities shows that behind the supposed altruism is an economic rationality whose temporel and social horizons of optimization are different to the ideal image of the merchant exchange analyzed by the neoclasssic economic theory.



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