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Comparative Institutional Analysis

Theory, Corporations and East Asia. Selected Papers of Masahiko Aoki

Masahiko Aoki

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Chapter 15: "Individual" Social Capital, "Social" Networks, and Their Linkages to Economic Game

Masahiko Aoki


[15] “Individual” Social Capital, “Social” Networks, and Their Linkages to Economic Game MASAHIKO AOKI This essay makes a conceptual distinction between societal categories, such as social networks, norms, and social status differentiation, on the one hand, and social capital invested by individual agents on the other. The former are institutional phenomena arising as outcomes of social-exchange games in which individual agents invest strategically in social capital. Recent development of neuroscience suggests the future possibility of measuring social payoffs in terms of trade-off relationships with hedonic payoffs. This possibility may suggest that a linked-game approach to social capital and its implications for economic performance are more promising. This approach might make feasible an analysis of socioeconomic networks that is not possible using an economic or sociological approach in isolation. Particularly, this essay suggests a way to apply the linked-game approach to the problem of the tragedy of the commons, which is becoming one of the most acute public issues of our time. About 10 years ago, Partha Dasgupta and Ismail Serageldin edited a useful volume on social capital based on a years-long project of the World Bank (Dasgupta and Serageldin 1999). Articles included in that volume exhibited varied views on the concept and ways it can be used in economic analysis, and, in spite of the lucidly executed concluding chapter by Dasgupta that impartially summarized the contents and presented his own comprehensive view, the divide on the concept was not reconciled. Particularly troublesome was the fact that the two giants among...

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