In my book on human capital management, I referred, almost in passing, to social capital as well. I noted:
“Social or relational capital is an emergent property arising from the organisational system – the organisation and the people working in the organisation. Social capital includes the network of relationships and features of social life within an organisation, the knowledge tied up and shared in these relationships, the ability to work together with other people in value creation, the corporate culture, beliefs lived and values demonstrated by employees. It provides the glue that holds organisations together. Social capital is even less tangible than human capital and demonstrates even more attributes of complex systems. How is this for a paradox: it is not owned by the people but leaves when they leave and is not contained within the organisation but does not exist in the same way without it.”
I also observed that given in many organisations, the point of performance is now the team not the individual, that social capital is potentially even more important than the human kind.
Since the publication of my first book, I have been spending whatever time I can assembling my thoughts about social capital as well. I started blogging on these thoughts in November 2007, and in July 2009 set up this new site and blog: Social Advantage – which will also be the name of my next book, focusing on the role of social capital in business, and the opportunities it provides.
My blog will continue to include ongoing notes about social capital – or more broadly, the role of connections, relationships and conversations in organisations - as they occur to me, but I will also be starting to draft sections of my book.
I would value your comments on these thoughts and drafts, and hope that together, we can help move businesses towards a more socially oriented way of managing people, for the good of these people, and the competitive advantage of these firms.
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22 July 2009