Cover: A Culture of Credit: Embedding Trust and Transparency in American Business, from Harvard University PressCover: A Culture of Credit in HARDCOVER

Harvard Studies in Business History 50

A Culture of Credit

Embedding Trust and Transparency in American Business

Product Details


$59.50 • £51.95 • €54.95

ISBN 9780674023406

Publication Date: 10/31/2006


288 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

Harvard Studies in Business History


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This incisive monograph retraces the emergence and maturation of the two largest American credit reporting firms, the Mercantile Agency, which became R. G. Dun and Company, and J. M. Bradstreet. Rowena Olegario shows how those dominant innovators tackled the fundamental problem of asymmetric information in mercantile trade… [T]his engaging book is a model of how to probe an evolving economic culture through a pivotal institution of modern capitalism and should receive close attention from business, social, and cultural historians of industrializing America. —Edward Balleisen, Journal of American History

Rowena Olegario has filled an important gap in American business history. A Culture of Credit is a straightforward, clearly written study of an important and understudied question: how did creditworthiness come to be determined in American mercantile trade? In this fascinating and informative history, Olegario illuminates much that was unknown about the workings of nineteenth-century commercial credit. Even more interestingly, she draws our attention to a difficult cultural problem that is often taken for granted by people with little business experience but is always of immense importance to creditors—the problem of ‘trust’ and ‘transparency’ in business dealings.—Lendol Calder, Augustana College

With great originality, Rowena Olegario brings together a wide variety of sources and weaves them into a compelling story about embedding trust and transparency in American business. All in all, this is a superb contribution to business history.—Richard Sylla, New York University

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