Reaching Out, Reaching In
Edited by Viva Ona Bartkus and James H. Davis
13. Organizational trust and social capital 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...
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