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Accelerating progress in social and environmental sustainability
Aug 3, 2014

(When) Do Organizations Have Social Capital?

Interorganizational relationships connect people affiliated with organizations rather than corporate actors themselves. The managers and owners of organizations therefore do not always control these connections and consequently often cannot profit from them. We discuss the circumstances under which individuals (versus organizations) own these relationships (and therefore also the social capital generated by them). Three factors increase the odds of individual ownership: (a) the extent to which the resources valued by alters belong to the individual (rather than the organization), (b) the degree to which alters feel greater indebtedness to the individual than to the organization, and (c) the extent to which relationships involve emotional attachment. We discuss the implications of the locus of ownership, argue that these distinctions can help explain many results that appear inconsistent on the surface, and call for future research to pay closer attention to these issues.

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