Social Science History Seminar
Creating organizations with broader social aims like public good provision is an important part of the development process, yet in many societies politics imposes barriers to creating organizations. To shed light on this issue we study the creation of companies expanding river navigation in Britain during a tumultuous period it is history. The Whigs and Tories traded several times as the majority party in the House of Commons and competed vigorously in local elections. Using detailed data we show that creation of river navigation companies depended on which party was in power, on how party representation was distributed across space, and on the extent of local political competition. The results speak to broader debates about Britain's political institutions and mechanisms for creating organizations.