Social Capital in Management Information Systems Literature

Social Capital in Management Information Systems Literature

Hossam Ali-Hassan (York University, Toronto, ON, Canada)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/jitr.2013100101
OnDemand PDF Download:
No Current Special Offers


Social capital represents resources or assets rooted in an individual’s or group’s network of social relations. It is a multidimensional and multilevel concept characterized by diverse definitions and conceptualizations, all of which focus on the structure and/or on the content of the social relations. A common conceptualization of social capital in information systems research consists of a structural, relational and cognitive dimension. The structural dimension represents the configuration of the social network and the characteristics of its ties. The relational dimension epitomizes assets embedded in the social relations, such as trust, obligations, and norms of reciprocity. The cognitive dimension is created by common codes, languages and narratives, and represents a shared context that facilitates interaction. To singular or collective network members, social capital can be a source of solidarity, information, cooperation, collaboration and influence. Ultimately, social capital has been and will remain sound theoretical grounding upon which to study information systems affected by social relationships and their embedded assets.
Article Preview


Social capital is used to describe relational resources embedded in personal ties, which are helpful in the personal development of individuals in community social organizations. Social capital has been defined as a set of social resources embedded in relationships, or more broadly as the norms and values associated with these social relationships (Tsai & Ghoshal, 1998). An example of a scholar who focused on the social resources embedded in relationships is Burt (1992), who defined social capital as friends, colleagues, and more general contacts through whom you receive opportunities to use your financial and human capital (p. 9). Woolcock (1998) provided further support for characterizing social capital by reference to the norms and value associated with social relations, defining the concept as “the information, trust and norms of reciprocity inherent in one’s social network” (p.153).

Adler and Kwon’s (2002) compilation of twenty social capital definitions gathered from relevant literature highlights the term’s conceptual diversity. The gathered definitions focus either on the relations an actor maintains with other actors and/or on the structure of relations among actors in a collectivity. Additionally, they focus on the social ties and relationships and/or on the characteristics and content of those ties and the assets they represent. Examples of such definitions of social capital include:

  • The ability of actors to secure benefits by virtue of membership in social networks or other social structures” (Portes, 1998, pp.6)

  • Features of social organization such as network, norms and social trust that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefits” (Putnam, 1995, pp.67)

  • The sum of the resources, actual or virtual, that accrues to an individual or a group by virtue of possessing a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition” (Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992, pp.119)

  • A variety of different entities, with two elements in common: they all consist of some aspect of social structures, and they facilitate certain actions of actors – whether persons or corporate actors – within the structure” (Coleman, 1988, pp.S98).

Complete Article List

Search this Journal:
Volume 15: 6 Issues (2022): 1 Released, 5 Forthcoming
Volume 14: 4 Issues (2021)
Volume 13: 4 Issues (2020)
Volume 12: 4 Issues (2019)
Volume 11: 4 Issues (2018)
Volume 10: 4 Issues (2017)
Volume 9: 4 Issues (2016)
Volume 8: 4 Issues (2015)
Volume 7: 4 Issues (2014)
Volume 6: 4 Issues (2013)
Volume 5: 4 Issues (2012)
Volume 4: 4 Issues (2011)
Volume 3: 4 Issues (2010)
Volume 2: 4 Issues (2009)
Volume 1: 4 Issues (2008)
View Complete Journal Contents Listing