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date: 26 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter begins by examining the reasons for the growing historiographical and theoretical interest in small-scale credit institutions, and in understanding variations in the institutional arrangements of intermediaries more broadly. It then briefly surveys the literature on a selection of these institutions—ROSCAs, savings banks, credit cooperatives, and building associations—to identify patterns of organization and development over time and place. Finally, it examines a number of theoretical perspectives that have been used to account for variation in in the organizational size, form, and practices that such small credit institutions embody. Specifically it considers transaction cost theories, location-based theories, socio-political theories, and cultural/narrative theories, and assesses their contributions and limitations in understanding the sources of variation and change in institutional arrangements.

Keywords: ROSCAs, savings banks, building and loan associations, credit cooperatives and institutions

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