Continuity and discontinuity in the capitals legitimating business elites – a diachronic analysis of the Swiss banking elites during the long 20th century (1890-2020)

Pedro Araujo, Eric Davoine, and Pierre-Yves Donzé have presented a paper at the annual colloquium of the European Group for Organizational Studies on the careers of Swiss banking elites. Literature on business elites has scrutinized career paths through the concept of capital in order to understand which resources are inherited, accumulated and used by individuals to position themselves at the top of organizations. Relying on this previous body of work, the article aims to document mechanisms of selection of the Swiss banking elite through an historical perspective. The authors adopt a diachronic approach from 1890 to 2020, distributed among seven benchmark years (1890, 1910, 1937, 1957, 1980, 2000 and 2020). Mobilizing a database of 301 top managers from the banking sector, the authors describe how the endowment with specific forms of capital has regulated the entry within the Swiss banking elite for the considered period. The comparison among benchmark years offers a new understanding of how the selection of banking elites has been subject to a mix between change and stability.

% of banking elites combing from a founding family