Abstract: Market-Embedded Clans in Theory and History: Greek Diaspora Trading Companies in the Nineteenth Century

Ioanna Pepelasis Minoglou and Stavros Ioannides


Ever since publication of Oliver Williamson's Markets and Hier-archies in 1975, the market and the hierarchical firm have been thought of as constituting two poles of a continuum of organizational forms. In 1980, William G. Ouchi put forth the concept of the clan as a potential alternative to markets and hierarchies for organizing transactions. Subsequent work has employed the clan concept almost exclusively in the context of organizations, that is, as a substitute for hierarchy. An analysis of how a functioning clan, the members of which transact with each other and with non-members across a market interface, affects the organizational forms they adopt is missing. We attempt to fill this void by analyzing, first, the clan concept and especially market-embedded, rather than organization-embedded clans. Second, we show that the members of a market-embedded clan will tend to establish shallower and more volatile organizations than is standard practice among non-members. Third, we analyze a historical example, nineteenth century Greek Diaspora Trading Companies that were less hierarchical organizations than their Western counterparts. We explain this difference through our observation that a group of merchants from the island of Chios with clan characteristics stood at the core of the Greek Diaspora.

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