A more German Italy? Competition and the development of relationship lending

Francesco Stolfi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, this article shows that since the 1990s, greater competition in Italy's banking industry has pushed commercial banks to develop some of the institutions of relationship lending (RL) typical of coordinated economies, namely to develop closer relationships with firms. While these developments do not amount to full-fledged RL, our findings have, first, implications for the assessment of institutional developments in Italy's political economy, providing evidence of increasing coordination against accounts, emphasizing stability or the disarticulation of existing institutional relations, and second, they qualify broader theoretical arguments on institutional change in national varieties of capitalism. Against standard arguments, the article suggests that increased competition can lead to tighter rather than looser coordination among economic actors. Finally, and more speculatively, the article presents some preliminary evidence that the commercial banks’ turn to RL might be contributing to the polarization of the Italian economy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-572
Number of pages20
JournalReview of International Political Economy
Issue number4
Early online date11 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Banking
  • coordinated market economies
  • corporate governance
  • financial institutions
  • Italy
  • mixed market economies
  • polarization
  • relationship lending


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