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Roman Law and EconomicsInstitutions and Organizations Volume I$
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Giuseppe Dari-Mattiacci and Dennis P. Kehoe

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198787204

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198787204.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 20 January 2022

Agency Problems and Organizational Costs in Slave-Run Businesses

Agency Problems and Organizational Costs in Slave-Run Businesses

(p.273) 10 Agency Problems and Organizational Costs in Slave-Run Businesses
Roman Law and Economics

Barbara Abatino

Giuseppe Dari-Mattiacci

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the internal economic organization of the peculium servi communis—that is, of separate business assets assigned to a slave—and its (external) relationships with creditors. Literary, legal, and epigraphic evidence points predominantly to businesses of small or medium size, suggesting that there must have been some constraints to growth. We identify both agency problems arising within the business organization (governance problems) and agency problems arising between the business organization and its creditors (limited access to credit). We suggest that, although the praetorian remedies had a remarkable mitigating effect, agency problems operated as a constraint to the expansion of these business organizations, both in terms of the number of individuals involved and in terms of the amount of capital invested.

Keywords:   economic analysis of Roman law, law and economics, Roman law, societas, servus communis, peculium, agency theory, theory of the firm, transaction costs

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