Handbook of Social Capital and Regional Development
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Handbook of Social Capital and Regional Development

Edited by Hans Westlund and Johan P. Larsson

The role of social capital in regional development is a multifaceted topic which is studied all over the world using various methods and across numerous disciplines. It has long been evident that social capital is important for regional development, however, it is less clear how this works in practice. Do all types of social capital have the same effects and are different kinds of regions impacted in the same way? This book is the first to offer an overview of this rapidly expanding field of research and to thoroughly analyse the complex issue of social capital and regional development.
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Chapter 17: Clusters as a take-off for glocal strategies: the role of social capital

Bengt Johannisson, Marcela Ram'rez Pasillas and Malin Lindberg

Abstract

This chapter conceptualizes and operationalizes the potential of social capital in the making of sustainable strategies for individual firms in localized clusters as well as for the clusters as collectives. Global competitiveness is created out of local collaboration between firms that to a varying degree are internationalized, thereby building generic ‘glocal’ strategies. These strategies are in turn energized by the individual and collective social capital that originates in the egocentric personal networks of the local firms and the sociocentric personal network that the overall cluster of firms constitutes. The personal ties between firms that build these networks concern business or social exchange or a combination of the two. We inform how these features of network ties can be operationalized to provide a database for comparative studies of localized clusters of firms. The overall localized social capital that the cluster contains is activated through spontaneous self-organizing as well as formal organizing. The interaction between the spontaneous and formal structures turns the cluster into an ‘organizing context’, that is, an enacted environment for the local firms that is co-constructed by themselves. To illustrate how clusters build organizing contexts that accommodate glocal strategies by accumulating and using social capital, we tell the story of a Swedish community (Lammhult) and its firm cluster. This is known as ‘The kingdom of furniture’. The proposed model of personal networking and the illustrated example together inform how local actors may successfully initiate a process that aims at the creation of viable glocal strategies anchored in personal relations and networks. A ‘first mover advantage’ enables the cluster representatives to define what further enforcements external private and public bodies may contribute with.

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