Explaining and developing social capital for knowledge management purposes

Paul Manning (Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Business and Law, Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, UK)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Publication date: 23 February 2010



The purpose of this paper is to review the growing literature bridging social capital (SC) and knowledge management (KM). The paper seeks to identify the causal factors for this recent research into the connection between SC and KM, and also to explicate the relationship between the most relevant neo‐capital theories and KM. Further, the paper aims to argue that Granovetter's and Coleman's socially embedded understanding of market activity is the most relevant for examining the SC and KM interface. Finally, the paper seeks to offer guiding approaches drawn from SC literature for enhancing KM performance.


The paper reviews the SC literature from a KM perspective.


First, interest in SC from KM scholars is driven by a number of inter‐linked causal factors. Second, SC is significant for KM purposes and can be understood as being complementary to and parallel with other intangible capitalisations, such as human capital (HC) and intellectual capital (IC). Third, there are a number of guiding notions that organisations can adapt to construct and enhance SC for KM purposes. However, SC processes are complicated and context‐dependent and therefore resistant to micro‐management and “one size fits all” prescriptions.


The paper examines the broader context of the SC and KM interdisciplinary meeting place. It argues for an “embedded” theoretical understanding of SC that is most relevant for KM performance, and also explicates the parallel nature of neo‐capital theories from a KM perspective. The paper also suggests a number of guiding approaches that organisations can adapt to analyse and develop their SC for KM purposes.



Manning, P. (2010), "Explaining and developing social capital for knowledge management purposes", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 83-99. https://doi.org/10.1108/13673271011015589

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