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Family Business and Social Capital

Edited by Ritch L. Sorenson

The chapters in this cutting edge book comprise scholarly work on social capital in family business along with chapters written by family business owners and advisors. Topics covered include social capital as it relates to governance, trust, family and business identity, communication, family councils, work–family balance, and the use of advisors and continuing education to build social capital. Novel in its approach of integrating the voices of scholars, business families, and advisors, this book is useful not only for business research and classroom use, but also for business families and their advisors.
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Chapter 12: Leveraging family member capacity for the business and the family

Teresa J. Rothausen and Ritch L. Sorenson


“Social capital” is a term used to describe relationships within a system or community – social because relationships are the basis for community action, and capital because the relationships themselves become an asset. This concept was developed about 20 years ago, when innovative leaders established it as a new approach to building communities. Rather than focusing on social problems in isolation, which together became an unending list of insurmountable social ills, they found ways to build relationships among individuals and institutions to capitalize on capacities and assets to build community. To achieve this, community builders helped individuals within institutions to see value – for themselves and for the larger community – in combining their capacities and assets in new ways. For example, a former prison inmate worked with a university professor to obtain a grant to teach entrepreneurship in a prison, which enabled prison inmates to develop work when they left prison. With this model, working norms and relationships of trust are used repeatedly for causes that benefit each institution, but that each institution could not do on its own. Thus, a variety of seemingly unconnected individuals and institutions might assemble capacities and assets to benefit each other and the community in multiple ways.

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