Social Capital

Social Capital

Reaching Out, Reaching In

Edited by Viva Ona Bartkus and James H. Davis

This book showcases new innovative research in economics, politics, sociology, and management regarding the topic. Leading scholars from a variety of disciplines present ground-breaking new research exploring the still-undiscovered value of social capital. The book employs a self-consciously multi-disciplinary approach to address two objectives: reaching out and reaching in. Through theoretical and empirical scholarship, the authors explore the many contexts in which the phenomenon can have impact. In effect, social capital research reaches out to issues of economic well-being, civic participation, educational achievement, knowledge and norm formation, and competitive advantage. Further, the authors investigate the many connections between the core themes of social capital and the pillars on which it rests, including structural networks, cognition, relationships and trust. This book is fundamentally about bridging – bridging across disciplines, units of analysis, and themes.

Chapter 13: Organizational Trust and Social Capital

James H. Davis and Viva Ona Bartkus

Subjects: business and management, organisation studies, public management, politics and public policy, public administration and management, public policy


James H. Davis and Viva Ona Bartkus Does trust create social capital? Does social capital foster trusting relationships? Are trust and social capital synonymous? ● ● ● Controversy persists regarding the relationship between trust and social capital. Opinions vary widely. At one end of the spectrum, scholars argue passionately that trust is a necessary ingredient for – or antecedent of – social capital,1 while others claim trust is an outcome.2 Some scholars declare that trust and social capital are essentially the same thing.3 This chapter represents our entry in this vigorous debate. We first argue that social capital is impossible without prior organizational trust. Such trust creates the environment community members need if they are going to engage in activities together. This atmosphere also mitigates the risks that individuals take when they choose to act as part of a community, and makes them more open to being vulnerable. The resulting collaboration is how members obtain social capital’s benefits. Yet how does a community foster the organizational trust so needed to build social capital? We argue that a community’s level of organizational trust depends directly on the strength of its networks, the breadth and depth of its shared norms (for example, reciprocity, helpfulness), and the abilities of the members and the group itself. Our model is firmly grounded on existing trust literature and empirically tested with a sample of students and study teams in the business college of a major university. More specifically, our research investigates bonding social capital – in other words, relationships within...

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