Using the 1998 Survey of Small Business Finances and banking data to produce a bank-firm match, the author tests for evidence of standardized versus relationship lending methods in both total bank credit as well as credit emanating from the firm’s most important source of financial services, its primary bank. The author employs a two-step Heckman procedure to test the likelihood a small firm has bank debt, then conditional upon having debt, the level of credit outstanding. By comparing the determinates of bank and firm characteristics of primary bank credit with credit from all bank sources, the author finds relationship lending inherent within the primary bank, whereas competing bank sources employ standardized lending techniques such as credit scoring. Relating to credit availability, however, no clear dominance of one method over the other prevails, though empirical support is evident in primary banks providing more favorable credit conditions for riskier firms.

JEL Codes

G21, G32, L25


Bank , Bank Lending , Firm , Firms , Lending