The Economic History Review

The incidence and persistence of partnerships in a British industrial city: Glasgow, 1861–81

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Authors: Graeme Acheson, Eoin McLaughlin, Gill Newton, Linda Perriton
Published online: June 17, 2024DOI: 10.1111/ehr.13356

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This paper examines the prevalence of business partnerships in a late-nineteenth-century British city, using individual-level data from post office directories and censuses. Focusing on Glasgow, we present a detailed picture of partnership number and type, demographic characteristics of the entrepreneurs who ran them, and how these businesses persisted over time. We show that partnerships were a key business grouping in the city and demonstrate that the partnership form was advantageous in manufacturing and that the majority of partnerships were formed between individuals without family ties. Furthermore, we offer new insight into business longevity, showing that partnership business survival broadly matched corporate survival rates in this period, with persistence data also suggesting that kinship partnerships were better able to deal with the perceived hold-up problems associated with the partnership form.

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