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Edited by Günter K. Stahl and Ingmar Björkman
Chapter 25: International Human Resource Management and Social Network/Social Capital Theory
Mark L. Lengnick-Hall and Cynthia A. Lengnick-Hall Work gets done through relationships embedded in larger networks. The intricate network of relationships both within and outside an organization forms the circulation system that carries information and ideas to those who need it, when they need it (Lengnick-Hall & Lengnick-Hall, 2002). Connections among people both within and across organizations have received increasing attention in the recent past thanks to some groundbreaking research in sociology and management (for example, Burt, 1992; Coleman, 1988; Granovetter, 1974; Krackhardt 1990). As Brass (1995) noted, a social capital/social network perspective is not oﬀered as a substitute or competing view to the traditional HR focus on individual attributes. Rather combining this perspective with the traditional one may broaden our understanding of the complexities of behaviour in organizations and oﬀer new avenues for research in IHRM. The purpose of this chapter is to guide IHRM scholars interested in incorporating social network/social capital theory in their future research. We begin by deﬁning key concepts. Next, we describe the relationship between social capital and competitive advantage in international ﬁrms. Finally, we propose an agenda for IHRM research focused on the role of IHRM in using social capital and social networks to achieve strategic capabilities in multinational corporations. Figure 25.1 illustrates the essential relationships. Relationships: the foundation for social capital A relationship represents a lasting association between two or more individuals, groups or organizations (Lengnick-Hall & Lengnick-Hall, 2003). Relationships have four distinctive characteristics. One, they occur over time and are built...
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