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Understanding SME Finance: Determinants of Relationship Lending

By Sean Suk Hyun

Much of the existing literature in small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) finance surveys the impact of borrower and lender characteristics on firms’ credit availability, and it has already been established that there is a link between strong firm-bank relationship and higher level of credit availability. In this paper, I focus on what determines the strength of relationship, measured by length and exclusivity. In particular, I was able to build an original metric to gauge the strength of relationship using the inverse value of the number of financial institution that a firm deals with. Using a set of regressions, I confirm the existing theories that size of the firm and type of ownership matters. Small firms and sole proprietorships tend to have longer and more exclusive relationships, which implies their reliance on relationship lending. Firm owner characteristics are shown to be somewhat important, in that it serves as proxies for a given firm’s creditworthiness.

Honors Thesis

Advisor: Grace Kim, Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: G02, G21, G30, L14 | Tagged: Asymmetrical information, Credit Rationing, Relationship Lending, SME Finance


Undergraduate Program Assistant
Matthew Eggleston

Director of the Honors Program
Michelle P. Connolly