objectives of this course are to introduce you to social capital, to
enable you to identify and evaluate key elements that enhance value of
an individual's social network, and to familiarize you with some tools
and techniques for managing organizational social capital and the value
derived from it. We will examine different types and combinations of
social relations, network structures of these relations, and
institutional environments that impact them.
Social Capital can be defined as the degree to which an organization or
community collaborates and cooperates (through such mechanisms as
networks, shared trust, norms and values) to achieve mutual benefits.
Social capital, as a parallel theory to human capital, analyzes the
production, investment and value embedded in social structures and
networks rather than in individuals. It is important to understand the
mechanisms and social structures leading to social capital, as it
complements human capital and financial capital in assuring individual
and organizational success.
This course will be a combination of lectures and cases based on
class discussions. I will also ask you to bring in and discuss your own
personal experiences as well as the experiences of your previous or
current organizations. Course material consists of a book by Cohen and
Prusak (2001)"In Good Company: How social capital makes organizations
work", and additional articles and cases provided in a course reader.
The primary purpose of this project is to explore and evaluate the
social network of an organization or a group. The project will involve
doing fieldwork to examine and map an organization or group's social
network, along with the cognitive (shared mental models) and relational
(trust and reciprocity) dimensions of this network. The secondary
purpose of the project is to start thinking about ways to improve the
structure and/or functionality of the network.Some recommendations and action steps
You will choose and contact an organization or a group for this
project. You will conduct 10-15 surveys and/or short interviews with
the members of this organization. Based on these data and the tools
introduced in the course, you will map and critique the social capital
of this organization. You can choose any kind and size of organization
that is interesting to you (e.g. IBM, Bank of America, Dartmouth Outing
Club, local chapter of a political organization, etc.). The
organizations do not need to be local. If at least one member of your
group had some prior contact with the organization, you can collect
data through phone interviews and electronic communication tools.
Please contact me immediately if you have trouble gaining access to an
Your project report should be addressed to the senior management of the
organization. The analysis should cover the following items:
In this course we will follow the Tuck's Academic Honor Code. You
should be especially careful in handling the field data that you gather
during your project or that is shared with you during class
discussions. Strict confidentiality and identity protection is very
important in building a trusting, respectful relationship with the
organization that welcomes you to discuss such an intimate topic as
their cultural values.
The Tuck Laptop Policy applies in all
respects to this course. Laptops may be used in class only when
required for the class session. Checking email or surfing the Internet
during class is not acceptable, and will be considered a serious
violation of Tuck's Honor Code.
As much of the learning in this class comes from in-class exercises and
discussions, your attendance is essential. If you must miss a class
session, it is your responsibility to notify me by email in advance of
class, indicating the reason for the absence. Failure to do so may
result in a substantial penalty for your grade.
Final grades will be based on effective class participation (15%), a two-part individual assignment (25%), and a group project
(60%). Your class participation assessment depends on the quality and
insightfulness of your contribution in the class discussions, rather
than on the air time you take up. The assignments will ask you to apply
the tools covered in the course to your own individual network and
evaluate your understanding of these tools. The group project will
involve mapping an organizations' social network and discussing its
Introducing Social Capital
C&P Chapter 1
"Gurus in the garage", Leonard and Swap, HBR, 2000.
"The Science behind the six degrees", Watts, HBR, 2003.
Takeaways: Form an idea about what social capital is and how it is
associated with related concepts such as social networks and human
How Social Capital is formed and improved
Readings: "The network structure of social capital", Burt, 2000, in Research in Organizational Behavior, Volume 22.
"Centrality and Power in Organizations" Brass and Burkhardt, in Networks and Organizations (ed.s. Nohria & Eccles)
"Informal Networks: The Company behind the Chart", Krackhardt and Hanson, HBR 1993.
"How holes help support structure", FT Article.
Case: Matt Leeds, HBS Case, #403111
Takeaways: What determines a person's position in a social network?
How different positions in a network affect one's social capital
How different types of connections affect one's social capital
How Social Capital is formed and improved (continued)
C&P Chapter 2
"Trust and Knowledge sharing: A critical Combination",
Levin et. al., IBM Institute publications.
Map your personal network and evaluate potential social captial (to be discussed in class and turned in)
Takeaways: Affect and behavioral antecedents of social capital
Mechanisms affecting social capital
From an individual perspective: Creating value through your network
"Evaluating your social capital", Baker, 2000, in Acheiving Success through Social Capital.
HBS Case#0B44: Keith Ferrazzi, by Chang and Pfeffer.
Assignment due: Complete the exercises and questionnaires within the
reading (to be discussed in class and used in next week's assignment)
Start taking necessary steps (interviews, surveys, etc.) to complete the term project
Takeaways: Evaluating the current and potential social capital of an
individual depending on the characteristics of his/her network and
his/her position in it.
From an organizational perspective: Creating and maintaining social capital
"Leveraging social capital in organizations", Lesser, E.L.
(2000) in E.L. Lesser (ed.) Knowledge and Social Capital, pp. 3-16.
"How to invest in Social Capital", HBR, Prusak, 2001.
"Network Incubators: Hothouses of the New Economy", Hansen et. al., HBR, Sep. 2000
Case: "the Barista Principle-Starbucks and the rise of relational capital"
Assignment due: Perform a critical analysis of personal network and
create a time based action plan for enhancing your social capital (turn
Takeaways: Why social capital is important for organizations
Ways to improve overall social capital in an organization
Managing social capital and social networks
"Building Social Capital as an Organizational Competence", Baker, 2000, in Achieving Success through Social Capital.
"Why good companies go bad", Sull, HBR, 2000.
"Introducing T-shaped Managers", Hansen and Oetinger, HBR, 2001.
Skim: C&P, chapters 3-4.
Case: "Corning: A network of alliances"
Takeaways: Some more tools to enhance social capital of an organization
Benefits of Social Capital
"Strategic Alliances as Social Capital: A multidimensional View", Koka & Prescott, 2002.
"Social Capital and Capital gains in Silicon Valley",
Cohen & Fields, (2000) in E.L. Lesser (ed.).
Knowledge and Social Capital, pp. 3-16. Boston, MA
Social Capital: The good, the bad and the ugly", Adler & Kwon,
(2000) in E.L. Lesser (ed.) Knowledge and Social Capital, pp. 3-16.
Looking at the flip side: detriments of social capital
"Social Capital is not capital at all", FT Comment
"Pinpointing the problem: Understanding how individuals effect a
Network", Cross and Parker, Hidden Power of social networks, pp. 69-90,
"Parting Company: When valued employees want to leave", HBR, Dec. 2001,
"When Social Capital Stifles Innovation", Florida et. al., HBR 2002.
"Bandwith and Echo: Trust, Information and Gossip in Social Networks",
Burt, 2000, in Networks and Markets, (ed.s. Rauch, Casella).
Takeaways: Some pitfalls of high social capital and how to avoid them.
Virtual social capital: social capital gains and challenges in distributed organizations
C&P, Chapter 7
Skim: "Virtual Communities and Social Capital"
Blanchard, A.L. & Horan, T. (1998) Social Science Computer Review, 16, 293-307.
Skim: Zigurs, I. and S. Qureshi. "Managing the Extended Enterprise,
Creating Value from Virtual Spaces. "In Dickson, G. and G. DeSanctis.
Information Technology and the Future Enterprise: New Models for
Prentice Hall. 2001.
Case: "Intuit, Inc.: Transforming the Entrepreneurial Company into a Collaborative Organization (A)", HBS Case #9-403-064.
Final assignment: Term Project: Map an organizations social network and discuss its social capital.
Takeaways: Ideas to maintain social capital over time and space.