Comparing Financial Transparency between For-profit and Nonprofit Suppliers of Public Goods: Evidence from Microfinance
Previous research finds market financing is favored over relationship financing in environments of better governance, since the transaction costs to investors of vetting asymmetric information are thereby reduced. For industries supplying public goods, for-profits rely on market financing, while nonprofits rely on relationships with donors. This suggests that for-profits will be more inclined than nonprofits to improve financial transparency. We examine the impact of for-profit versus nonprofit status on the financial transparency of firms engaged with supplying public goods. There are relatively few industries that have large number of both for-profit and nonprofit firms across countries. However, the microfinance industry provides the opportunity of a large number of both for-profit and nonprofit firms in relatively equal numbers, across a wide array of countries. Consistent with our prediction, we find that financial transparency is positively associated with a for-profit status. Results will be of broad interest both to scholars interested in the roles of transparency and transaction costs on market versus relational financing; as well as to policy makers interested in the impact of for-profit on the supply of public goods, and on the microfinance industry in particular.