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Purpose – This article attempts to contribute to the body of knowledge regarding the value of social networks, or social capital, within the group process towards group and team performance by exploring the explicit contribution of social capital towards a group or team's performance. Design/methodology/approach – The research views the potential contribution of social capital through the perspective of the resource-based view of organizations, where social capital's unique potential contribution to the organization's competitive advantage is highlighted. Data were collected from undergraduate student-athletes (n=570) from 23 NCAA colleges and universities across the USA using a multiple hierarchical regression analysis. Findings – Results show a significant connection between social capital and team performance. This contribution is above and beyond other input and process variables, such as past team performance. Research limitations/implications – Data were limited to a cross-sectional view of social capital and team performance. Results, however, support past theoretical models where social capital maintains a significant presence in overall group effectiveness. Originality/value – While social capital has been connected to team performance conceptually, few research studies have made this connection explicit. This article provides justification for maintaining social capital as a viable and ubiquitous element to the dynamic group process. Findings here also provide additional support for re-examining social capital as significant contributor to a firm's competitive advantage.
Social capital and team
Aaron W. Clopton
Department of Kinesiology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge,
Louisiana, USA
Purpose This article attempts to contribute to the body of knowledge regarding the value of social
networks, or social capital, within the group process towards group and team performance by
exploring the explicit contribution of social capital towards a group or team’s performance.
Design/methodology/approach – The research views the potential contribution of social capital
through the perspective of the resource-based view of organizations, where social capital’s unique
potential contribution to the organization’s competitive advantage is highlighted. Data were collected
from undergraduate student-athletes (n¼570) from 23 NCAA colleges and universities across the
USA using a multiple hierarchical regression analysis.
Findings Results show a significant connection between social capital and team performance. This
contribution is above and beyond other input and process variables, such as past team performance.
Research limitations/implications Data were limited to a cross-sectional view of social capital
and team performance. Results, however, support past theoretical models where social capital
maintains a significant presence in overall group effectiveness.
Originality/value – While social capital has been connected to team performance conceptually, few
research studies have made this connection explicit. This article provides justification for maintaining
social capital as a viable and ubiquitous element to the dynamic group process. Findings here also
provide additional support for re-examining social capital as significant contributor to a firm’s
competitive advantage.
Keywords Social networks, Team working, Team performance, United States of America,
Group dynamics
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
In a diversifying world, the latency of organizational effectiveness is becoming
increasingly difficult to overcome and to manifest itself in successful organizations.
Because of this, the value of resource-efficiency within the organizational context is
also placed at an increasing premium. While physical, and tangible, resources can be
explicitly accounted for within the managerial realm; intangible resources such as
synergy and social networks – are much more intricate. Thus, research efforts have
furthered the exploration into the affective capabilities of the organization, such as
emotional intelligence (e.g. Goleman, 1998) and collective cognitive intelligence (e.g.
Glynn, 1996; Goyal and Akhilesh, 2007). The benefits of the collective affective
intelligence of the organization are often derived from individuals’ satisfaction with
their groups or work teams where these groups are the most frequent level of
categorization within organizations due to their deliberate or emergent
interdependence and subsequent social interaction (Ashforth and Mael, 1989).
Because of the nature of these groupings, a majority of the affective resources of an
organization are invested in groups or teams. This is also while past research has
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Social capital
and team
Team Performance Management
Vol. 17 No. 7/8, 2011
pp. 369-381
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/13527591111182634
suggested that “highly motivated and successful teams are the benchmark of
successful organizations,” (Goyal and Akhilesh, 2007, p. 207). Still, though
advancement has occurred in the understanding of these groups and teams and of
the intricacies of group dynamics and interactions, there is much to be explored, as
researchers have called for a stronger incorporation of social network concepts into
research on team effectiveness (Balkindi and Harrison, 2006). The basis of team
effectiveness has been attributed, in part, to collective efficacy (Gully et al., 2002), and
team-level goals (O’Leary-Kelly et al., 1994). Notably, however, team effectiveness has
also been partly defined by such network-oriented variables as group cohesion (Beal
et al., 2003) and network structure (Balkindi and Harrison, 2006).
Thus, the purpose of this article is to expand on our knowledge of the impact of
social networks upon team effectiveness in a dynamic group setting. To accomplish
this, the quality of social networks will be ascertained through a measure of social
capital, an often-explored notion that is based upon Nahapiet and Ghoshal (1998, p.
243) idea that social capital is “the sum of the actual and potential resources embedded
within, available through, and derived from, the network of relationships possessed by
an individual or social unit.” Social capital is also a construct that has been linked with
numerous outcomes of groups and teams, such as with knowledge sharing, learning,
reductions in time requirements and transaction costs, and reduced redundancy (Burt,
1992). Social capital also reduces the probability of opportunism and the cost of
monitoring (Putnam, 2000) while encouraging cooperative behavior and facilitating the
development of new forms of association and innovation (Fukuyama, 1995). However,
no explicit connection has been explored between social capital and team performance,
the current operationalization of group effectiveness and the measure through which
most studies of team effectiveness utilize (Kuo, 2004).
1.1 Teams and social networks
Generally, it is accepted that the quality of the connectedness and interaction of groups
and teams enhances the overall effectiveness of the groups and the organization, as
recent research shows team cohesion connected to performance (Tekleab et al., 2009).
This finding iterates previous work where cohesion impacts team effectiveness (Mason
and Griffin, 2003), including measures of satisfaction with the team and with team
viability (Tekleab et al., 2009) which have also been found as both critical aspects of
group effectiveness (Hackman, 1987) and of team effectiveness (Hyatt and Ruddy,
1997). This connection resonates with previous models (e.g. Gersick, 1989) where team
cohesion improves task performance of teams. The increase in task performance
results from cohesion impacting team efficiency and improving the team’s ability to
attain goals, perceive themselves as viable to the task, enhance their sense of
satisfaction from the group experience, and to augment the overall performance of the
team. The quality of social networks also accounts for the three common, and salient,
variables necessary to the processes of effective group functioning and performance:
communication, social integration, and coordination (Evans and Carson, 2005).
Notably, while all three are linked to numerous findings of group productivity, social
integration manifested itself as the one apparent critical link to effective performance
(Williams and O’Reilly, 1998). Operationalized as both the attraction to the group itself
and the quality of social interaction among the group members, social integration has
significantly contributed to more productive communication (Smith et al., 1994), and
group membership (O’Reilly et al., 1989). Further, there appears to be more
fundamental ramifications with social integration leading to each of the other two
components to group processes: the aforementioned communication (Smith et al., 1994)
and to coordination (Knight et al., 1999). In fact, coordination of groups and teams
embodies the link between quality of social networks and tangible, collective group
action. Groups with high coordination use cognitive and affective resources optimally
and are more likely to produce high task achievement (Levine and Moreland, 1998).
1.2 Social capital
To measure the quality of social networks towards team performance, the amount of
integration, coordination, connectedness, and cohesiveness was summated into social
capital. The phenomenon of social capital is nothing new, as researchers have used
past literature to connect the social capital construct to effective and functioning
groups. Coleman (1988, p. 98), for one, compared the benefits of social capital to that of
any other form of capital since “social capital is productive, making possible the
achievement of certain ends that in its absence would not be possible”. Notably, social
capital makes this achievement possible by directly impacting the three key
components of group processes mentioned earlier. In fact, researchers have discovered
social capital as a solution to problems of coordination, high transaction costs, and
problems of information communication between and among individuals (Lazega and
Pattison, 2001; Lin, 2001). Each of these outcomes are by-products of quality social
networks within groups and teams of organizations. These networks are more aligned,
more efficient, and are thought to be more productive overall. This impact is explained
in the three specific aspects to social capital, in which each specific dimension utilizes
distinct processes to enhance social network quality (Nahapiet and Ghoshal, 1998). The
cognitive dimension of social capital refers to the shared, collective conscience of the
group. Here, similar experiences of the group create a collective identity of the group
one in which individuals draw a portion of their own identity. Key to these shared
experiences are the existence of a shared language and shared narratives in which
individual members continually draw closer to the idea of the group or team (Nahapiet
and Ghoshal). If social capital were defined as “one heart, one mind, one body” of the
group, the cognitive dimension would be the extent to which the group functions as
“one mind.” Conversely, the group’s “one body” would be exemplified by Nahapiet and
Ghoshal’s structural dimension of social capital. This dimension focuses on the overall
pattern of relationships within groups and organizations, which directly impacts all
outcomes related to coordination and communication. Strong structural social capital
of a group enables individuals to perform their jobs more efficiently and effectively
(Ibarra, 1992). The structural dimension is explored through the number of direct and
indirect ties, the frequency of interaction, the number of structural holes, and the
structural equivalence of the organization each of which is directly connected to
overall performance (DeWever et al., 2005). Beyond the “mind” and “body” of the
group, though, lies the “heart” of the group or the relational dimension of social
capital. Through this perspective, social capital within the group is exhibited by the
characteristics of the relations among the group members, specifically trust, norms of
behavior in particular, norms of reciprocity obligations and expectations, and
one’s affective connection to the group and organization (Nahapiet and Ghoshal, 1998).
The relational dimension echoes elements of Granovetter’s (1973) notion of strong ties,
Social capital
and team
which are relationships between individuals in a group highlighted by trust,
reciprocity, and emotional intensity. This dimension also echoes Putnam’s (2000)
bonding social capital where relationships are thick and tight; and trust and similarity
are key components to the quality of interaction among individuals. From these strong
ties and bonding social capital come numerous group benefits. The relational
dimension, while connected to coordination and communication, centers on the social
integration of the group members, where trust and interaction are most salient.
Notably, relational social capital improves both functional participation and social
participation of members to the group (Bolino et al., 2002), which explains, in part, the
premise through which relational social capital has been seen to improve group
performance (Bouty, 2000). Specifically, relational social capital’s element of trust is
what separates the dimension from others. Myriad economic outcomes within an
organization are impacted by trust, yet the need for trust in interorganizational
networks remains relatively high (e.g. DeWever et al., 2005). Trust is linked with
improved work performance (Martı
´nez-Tur and Peiro
´, 2009) of which much is
accounted for with an increase in citizenship behaviors based upon this trust
(Robinson, 1996). Like overall social capital within a group, organizational, or
community context, citizenship behaviors facilitate organizational performance by
“lubricating” the social machinery of organizations (Bolino et al., 2002; Borman and
Motowidlo, 1993). This notion also reverberates to a larger scale as Putnam (2000) has
explicated social capital as a “social lubricant” within communities; thus, facilitating
coordinated, collective action of communities and lowering the overall transaction
costs of functioning communities. The impact of trust upon the social capital of the
group is also explained by the extent to which trust improves organizational
commitment (Aryee et al., 2002) and well-being at work (Rich, 1997).
The manifestation of social capital into increased performance of groups and teams
echoes previous research utilizing a public-good view of social capital and connecting it
to a meso-level perspective of group effectiveness. The dichotomy of public-private
value is one of the aspects that sets social capital apart as a measurable construct in
organizational management, though few studies have been able to measure social
capital or an explicit connection between social capital and team performance (Kostova
and Roth, 2003). Individuals within groups having high-quality social networks derive
a distinct private good in social capital, as each individual will garner numerous social
and psychological benefits from increased trust, cohesion, and social integration
(Belliveau et al., 1996). Interestingly, social capital can also be viewed as a public-good,
as social capital accumulation benefits the group, the organization, and the system
altogether (e.g. Fukuyama, 1995). Here, individuals do not need to participate directly
or equally in the process of social capital generation, yet everyone benefits to a
varied extent – when the group and organization (at the meso-level), or community
social capital (at the macro-level) is high. It is the public-good perspective that Nahapiet
and Ghoshal (1998) alluded to in supporting the concept that social capital exists as a
significant source of sustainable organizational advantage. This advantage stems from
social capital’s ability to make collective work easier and to facilitate both economic
and community development (Putnam, 2000). Extant literature currently suggests that
the direct link between social capital and organizational advantage is a significant one
(e.g. Adler and Kwon, 2002), and that the advantage arises from the fact that individual
group members work more effectively and efficiently when they operate within
high-quality social networks where they know one another, understand one another,
and trust one another (Bolino et al., 2002).
Because of this impact, the perspective of social capital as an organizational
resource is derived from the resource-based view of the organization, a view also
incorporated by past research (e.g. Nahapiet and Ghoshal, 1998). The resource-based
view, or RBV, of the firm views organizations as heterogeneous bundles of resources
that are the source of various capabilities (Barney, 1991). The RBV’s focus, rather than
on external opportunities and threats, centers on the role of organizational resources
including tangible and intangible – and their attributes (Duncan et al., 1998). The RBV
stipulates that firms are endowed with these bundled resources and that competitive
advantage occurs if a resource is valuable, rare, and imperfectly imitable. Thus, the
resource(s) of the organization must be firm, specific, and not tradable (Hall, 1992). The
value, then, of high-quality social networks, or social capital, becomes a resource that
has the potential to contribute to the competitive advantage of the group or
organization. This argument is supported by Nahapiet and Ghoshal, who suggest that
organizations high in social capital are significantly more likely to be more successful
than competitors with relatively lower levels of social capital. Because social capital,
then, is one organizational attribute that is not easily formed and difficult to imitate
the presence of it will be likely to give organizations a sustainable edge over their
competitors (Bolino et al., 2002).
The current research sought to explore this notion in a specific team setting,
searching for a direct connection between the social capital presence and a tangible
product of team performance. Though extant literature fully supports the theoretical
connection between social capital and competitive advantage, a dearth of research has
tested this empirically. Thus, the purpose of this article is to extend our knowledge of
social capital, team performance, and competitive advantage.
2. Method
Data were collected from randomly-selected undergraduate student-athletes across 23
colleges or universities at the Division I level of the National Collegiate Athletic
Association (NCAA). The use of student athletes as team members allowed for the
study to have a unique opportunity to have teams with tangible performance
measures, such as wins and losses. Further, the ability to choose from 23 colleges and
universities provided the study with potentially strong external validity.
Student-athlete names and e-mail addresses were randomly chosen out of online
campus directories, and pre-notification letters for participation were sent
electronically to the 1,600 randomly selected students from 23 BCS institutions
chosen for this study. After the initial round of participation requests the subjects were
sent three follow-up e-mail messages requesting their participation. The survey items
were completed by 570 student athletes for an overall response rate of 35.63 percent, a
moderate and acceptable online response rate (e.g. Crawford et al., 2001).
After eliminating partial and incomplete responses, the total sample included in this
study (n¼434), a majority of the respondents were women (n¼278). Of the overall
respondents, an overwhelming majority of the sample were White, non Hispanic
(n¼362), lived on campus (n¼229), had a mean age of nearly 20 years, and a mean
grade point average of 3.23. Overall, the student-athletes responded with moderately
Social capital
and team
high levels of overall social capital at their university (M ¼5:41, SD ¼0:87) and
within their team (M ¼5:52, SD ¼1:12).
2.1 Social capital
To obtain the independent variable for the current study, the Social Capital
Assessment Tool (SCAT) was utilized to measure the amount of social capital
perceived to exist on each campus through student respondents (Krishna and Shrader,
1999). The SCAT was adapted from its original form which had previously been
utilized to establish social capital in communities around such issues as economics,
team identity (Clopton and Finch, 2010) and culture (Latham, 1998). The five-items
were adapted from the instrument including statements around the two salient
constructs of social capital: trust and norms of reciprocity, or social networks. These
statements ranged from “Most team members (athletes/coaches) are basically honest
and can be trusted,” to “Team members are always interested only in their own welfare
here,” to “I feel accepted as a member of this team.” With an inter-item correlation mean
of 0.39, the SCAT for the overall university setting reported an acceptable Cronbach’s
alpha of 0.80 as a measure of instrumental reliability and has been used in recent
research regarding the overall university environment (Clopton and Finch, 2010).
2.2 Team performance
The dependent variable was obtained through calculating the winning percentages of
teams to which each student-athlete belonged. Wins and losses from that year were
obtained through each school’s athletic department website and through the NCAA
official web site. Additionally, the winning percentage from the previous year’s teams
was also obtained for additional control in the analysis, as it was anticipated that there
would be a spillover effect regarding the team performances from the previous year.
2.3 Analysis
Data were analyzed through a multiple hierarchical regression analysis using an entry
method mirroring inputs – process – outputs. For the student respondents,
demographical variables (e.g. gender, race, age) were entered into the initial step of the
analysis. The second block of analysis included three variables regarding the athletic
and academic environment for each student (e.g. year in school, grade point average,
previous year’s winning percentage). Finally, after controlling for the inputs and
process-related variables, the social capital variable was regressed along the team
performance variable as the dependent variable. Results are presented in Tables I and
II, and discussed below.
3. Results
Initial results showed a unique relationship between social capital and input and
process variables. Significant bi-variate correlations existed between social capital and
gender (r¼0:11, p,0:01), race (r¼0:23, p,0:001), and student grade point
average (r¼0:14, p,0:05). All correlations are presented in Table I. To explore the
relationship between social capital and team performance, the regression analysis was
conducted along the aforementioned format. Notably, the measure of social capital did,
in fact, provide a low, but significant, contribution to team performance (
p,0:05) after controlling for input and process variables. Interestingly, this
contribution was significant beyond the significant connection between team
performance and the previous year’s performance, which was a strong predictor
¼0:56, p,0:001). Current results seem to confirm the previously-held notion that
social network value, such as social capital, does hold a potentially-competitive
advantage for teams. This connection occurred after controlling for, not only previous
team performance levels, but for individual team member inputs as well.
4. Discussion
Findings from this study seem to suggest numerous potential implications for
contributing to the overall knowledge of social capital’s role in group dynamics and
team performance. First, results here confirm previous findings on relational social
capital in regards to salient outcomes of team effectiveness. These namely include
loyalty and initiative (Bolino et al., 2001), citizenship behaviors (Bolino et al., 2002), and
coordination (Lin, 2001). As opposed to the cognitive and structural dimensions of
social capital, relational social capital is what I would refer to as the “heart” of the
group, or the aspect of social networks based upon trust and norms of reciprocity. The
distinction of relational social capital is that quality social networks are derived from
the extent to which they are close-knit and emotionally connected. It is this aspect of
connectedness that facilitates group effectiveness by improving interaction efficiency,
overall coordination, and functional and social participation (Bolino et al., 2002). It is
also the focus of this article as the social capital instrument, or SCAT, was constructed
on the relational dimension of social capital. It is the relational dimension of social
Variable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
1. Team performance
2. Gender 0.04
3. Race 0.11 0.07
4. Age 0.08 20.10 0.02
5. School Year 0.03 20.03 0.03 0.87 ***
6. GPA 0.06 0.16 ** 0.29 *** 20.01 0.04
7. Past performance 0.58 *** 0.002 0.10 0.07 0.03 0.04
8. Social capital 0.19 ** 0.11 *0.23 *** 20.01 0.06 0.14 *0.11
Notes: *p,0:05; **
p,0:0; ***
p,0.001; n¼434
Table I.
Correlations of all
variables used in analysis
Variable (figures from final step of analysis) BSE B
Gender 0.02 0.02 0.04
Race 0.01 0.03 0.02
Age 0.02 0.02 0.14
Year in school 20.02 0.01 20.11
Grade point average 0.01 0.02 0.02
Past team performance 0.61 0.06 0.56 **
Social capital 0.01 0.002 0.12 *
Notes: R
¼0.02, p¼0.25 for Step 1; R
D¼0.32, p,0:001 for Step 2; R
D¼0.02, p,0:05 for
Step 3; *values significant at the 0.05 level; **
values significant at the 0.001 level; n¼434
Table II.
Summary of hierarchical
regression analysis
predicting team
Social capital
and team
capital that also facilitates the other two dimensions of structural and cognitive social
capital. With social capital enhancing the team performance in the current study,
findings also reiterate the importance of trust. Because the groups and teams within
organizations offer a unique and added dynamic between individual and
organizational orientation, the role of trust in managing team performance is
elevated. In fact, the affective resources of organizations are mostly found at the group
level, as this is the most common conduit through which individual employees connect
to the larger organization (Ashforth and Mael, 1989). Subsequently, the tapping into
affective resources is of the utmost salience to group managers and this entire process
is predicated upon the elements of relational social capital that is, trust and norms of
reciprocity. This salience was reinforced here as relational social capital was able to
significantly predict team performance, even beyond that of which was predicted from
previous year’s performances.
The connection between social capital – here, relational social capital – also
reinforces findings from previous models of team effectiveness. Gersick’s (1989)
Punctuated Equilibrium Model is predicated on the extent to which social networks of
teams lead to overall team cohesion over time. This increased cohesion fosters an
environment that impacts the efficiency of group coordination and communication and
these elements manifest themselves in improved effectiveness. While the time element
was beyond the scope of the current research, it can be assumed that the similar
functioning occurred through the quality of relational social capital setting
high-performing teams a part from those teams with relatively lower levels of social
capital. Similarly, the Socio-Emotional Model of Team Effectiveness (Druskat and
Wolff, 2001) posits social capital as a resource constructed upon emotional intelligence
another aspect to relational social capital. From there, the quality of task processes
and the level of engagement into those processes are dependent upon the extent to
which teams build social capital through an emotional connection. Further, the role of
social capital has also been proposed as an antecedent in Goyal and Akhilesh’s (2007)
model predicting team innovativeness and as a moderator between functional diversity
and group processes in Evans and Carson’s (2005) model for team performance. The
significant impact of social capital upon team performance here confirms the
theoretical place of social capital within these models and provides for a further
empirical base upon which social capital and team performance can be explicitly
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the research findings here offer further
confirmation of the role of social capital as a resource to be managed with significant
competitive advantage potential. According to RBV of organizations, resources
contribute to an organization’s competitive advantage if they are rare and inimitable
(Barney, 1991). Past research has alluded to social capital’s potential as this resource
(e.g. Bolino et al., 2002; Nahapiet and Ghoshal, 1998) because of the menagerie of
outcomes distinctly connected to it. Because social capital serves as an aggregate
measure of cohesion, connectedness, integration, trust, norms of reciprocity, group
identity, individual reputation, and more, the social capital measure in an organization
has been shown to contribute to other antecedents of group effectiveness (i.e.
citizenship behaviors, coordination, communication, etc.) and to group effectiveness
itself (i.e. satisfaction with the group, perceptions of performance, task execution, etc.)
Here, though, social capital shows a direct contribution to team performance, thus,
providing these teams with a significant competitive advantage over competing teams
and organizations. While the acquisition of resources in the form of human capital,
financial capital, and organizational capital are most common and their contributions
to the organization are unquestioned, the actual contribution of social capital to the
organization through this perspective is less known. For this reason, social capital
becomes one of the greatest opportunities facing groups, teams, and organizations still
5. Conclusion and implications
While this research study attempted to contribute to the overall understanding of
social capital in team settings, several limitations arose that should be taken into
caution when considering the generalizability of these results. First, only the dimension
of relational social capital was utilized to assess social capital. Thus, it is recommended
that future research studies attempt to operationalize cognitive and structural social
capital in addition to relational social capital to create a three-dimensional
instrument of social capital for teams and organizations. Future research would also
benefit from including variables measuring the three elements of group processes:
communication, social integration, and coordination. A deeper understanding is
necessary regarding the interaction between the three dimensions of social capital
(structural, cognitive, relational) and the three variables of the group process
(communication, social integration, coordination).
Also limiting the current research was the one-year, cross-sectional approach to
assessing social capital and team performance. I attempted to address this limitation
by controlling for the previous year’s team performance levels. However, a longitudinal
design incorporating a multi-dimensional construct of social capital and a more holistic
approach to measuring team effectiveness (e.g. team performance, satisfaction with the
team, etc.) would present findings that provide a richer understanding of a truly unique
dynamic between the quality of social networks and team outcomes. Another
limitation was the use of individual-level assessments of social capital, rather than
group-level measurements. While this was by design in attempting to capture the
balance of social capital as both a private and public good within a work team context,
group performance and group social capital were beyond the scope of the study and
these results should be interpreted appropriately. It is recommended that follow-up
studies incorporate data from both individual and group levels.
Finally, it is recommended that both researchers and team managers continue to
explore the existence of tangibility in regard to the social networks of team members.
While the potential of social capital to deliver a competitive advantage seems merited,
social interactions remain the most untapped and underdeveloped of all resources
within organizations. The underutilization of social capital has serious ramifications in
terms of inefficiency and ineffectiveness. While social capital can be leveraged into
additional resources such as financial and human capital, the inverse might also be
true as groups and organizations with impoverished levels of social capital might be at
risk in seeing that absence parlay into dwindling resources elsewhere. Nonetheless,
future efforts must continue to build upon this awareness and expand upon the notion
of social capital as a distinct competitive advantage.
To begin with this, it is imperative that future research explicates the role each of
the three dimensions of social capital (i.e. relational, cognitive, and structural) and their
Social capital
and team
connection with group performance. Initial work should take a qualitative approach to
explore for the unique contributions that elements of each social capital dimension
provide in the work team and overall group relationship. This will allow future
research to have a clearer understanding of the extent to which this theoretical
framework of relational, cognitive, and structural social capital impacts group
members and group functions individually. Once established, a quantitative
exploration will allow for a clearer understanding in this framework and the
subsequent impact on group effectiveness and efficiency. Herein lies the greatest
impact for team managers. While it is widely accepted that the quality of social
networks has a direct connection with group effectiveness, much less is known about
the unique role each dimension of social capital plays in that process. From this
research, managers and supervisors will be able to ascertain the appropriate contexts
in which to build group identity, to use symbols and values to relate members back to
the tradition and affect of the group, or to use policy to realign team structure to
improve communication effectiveness and efficiency. While each example represents
an enhancement of social capital of the team, each also comes from distinctly different
dimensions of social capital and are appropriate responses to distinctly different
barriers to a work team’s performance. Once this is established, team managers need to
be able to accurately ascribe their team’s social capital within the context of its
competitors. Doing so will allow for a clearer understanding of the extent to which the
team’s social capital is valuable to the organization, rare in comparison to its
competitors, and difficult to imitate for those who do not have it. Such a context would
make it possible for a teams and organizations to build upon the ultimate goal of
creating a sustainable competitive advantage.
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Corresponding author
Aaron W. Clopton can be contacted at:
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