Chapter 10: The singularities of social capital in family business: an overview
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Entrepreneurial networks, family values, altruism, personal attitudes, family commitment, interpersonal dynamics, knowledge transfer, corporate culture or emotional costs are only some of the topics to which the family business literature has paid particular attention in recent years, in an effort to identify the source of the competitive advantage behind this type of firm. A common feature of these issues is that they can be analysed as components of the social capital, a concept that refers to the institutions, norms and networks that promote cooperation and enable collective action. In our opinion, taking the social capital concept as a reference is a useful analytical device that contributes towards a better understanding of some of the singularities of family firms. The concept of social capital has acquired a growing importance in social sciences and has recently gained wider acceptance in economics and business administration. Although there is a considerable debate with regard to its nature, most of the theorists on social capital (e.g. Coleman, 1990; Putnam, 1993; Torsvik, 2000; Fukuyama, 2000; Adler and Kwon, 2002) agree to define it in terms of its three main dimensions – networks, values and trust – which make it possible for social and economic agents to achieve their goals in a more efficient way. In fact, social capital is a term used to identify the resources present in relationships between individuals.

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