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Social Capital In Organizations – Beyond Structure And Metaphor




The importance and usefulness of social capital as a concept in the study of organizations have been established by a large body of research. The aim of this paper is to review the concept of social capital in an organizational context, and it identifies five main issues that need to be addressed in future research before social capital can move definitively beyond being merely metaphor for advantage. First, the unresolved issue of causality is a barrier in the study of social structure and social capital alike, and hampers both measuring scales and implications drawn from empirical research. Secondly, it is necessary to determine whether social capital can or should be measured. Thirdly, the negative aspects of social capital should be explored and integrated into the existing research. Fourthly, the field between social capital of the individual and organizational social capital lacks a consistent, bridging theory. Finally, there is a lack of understanding on how social capital develops over time and the potential benefits of taking a life-cycle view of social capital. In conclusion, the field of social capital in organizations still needs a consistent and coordinated research effort in each of the mentioned areas – separately and concurrently - in order to move beyond structure and metaphor.

Suggested Citation

  • Waldstrøm, Christian, 2003. "Social Capital In Organizations – Beyond Structure And Metaphor," Working Papers 2003-7, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhb:aardom:2003_007

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    1. John F. Helliwell & Robert D. Putnam, 1995. "Economic Growth and Social Capital in Italy," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 295-307, Summer.
    2. Gabbay, Shaul M. & Leenders, Roger Th.A.J., 2002. "Social capital of organizations : from social structure to the management of corporate social capital," Research Report 02B05, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
    3. Lederman, Daniel & Loayza, Norman & Menendez, Ana Maria, 2002. "Violent Crime: Does Social Capital Matter?," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50(3), pages 509-539, April.
    4. Turner, Marlene E. & Pratkanis, Anthony R., 1998. "Twenty-Five Years of Groupthink Theory and Research: Lessons from the Evaluation of a Theory," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 73(2-3), pages 105-115, February.
    5. repec:dgr:rugsom:02b05 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2003:93:1:122-129_9 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Social capital; review; social liability; causality; organizations;

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