Organizational invention and elite transformation: The birth of partnership systems in renaissance florence

John F. Padgett, Paul D. McLean

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173 Scopus citations


The birth of a new form of business organization, the partnership system, in Renaissance Florence is examined closely in order to discover the social processes of invention in that extraordinarily inventive place. Stated generally, the processes of invention the authors discover there are transposition, refunctionality, and catalysis across multiple social networks. Specifically, political co-optation of cambio bankers in the aftermath of the Ciompi revolt induced the transposition of domestic guild methods to the international plane, thereby changing their purpose and their reach. Subsequent social absorption through marriage of these elevated bankers into the victorious political alliance infused partnership with the multiplex logic (and often money) of dowry, thereby reproducing partnership systems as an integral component in post-Ciompi republicanism. Medieval organizational logics of patrilineage and guild were transformed into Renaissance organizational logics of marriage and clientage. The origins of financial capitalism are partly rooted in this elite social-network response to class revolt.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1463-1568
Number of pages106
JournalAmerican Journal of Sociology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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