Social Capital and Knowledge Management

Social Capital and Knowledge Management


In any human setting, people gain experience, discover, learn or associate and become acquitted with something which makes them be in a state of knowing and understanding something well and even better than other people. Such a person is perceived to have knowledge in a particular area. People can possess knowledge about something, but how they make use of that knowledge is quite different. Knowledge can be identified through the skills, qualifications and experience people hold and make use of it. In an organization, knowledge is seen as a resource, hence there is need to know how this knowledge can be well utilized by gathering, organizing, sharing and analyzing for the benefit of the whole organization. The concept of social capital can be linked to knowledge management because it is what someone has and making use of the idea he is able to assist another person. Knowledge management and social capital can be sources of economic growth in an organization.


Knowledge management offers an organization to discover and strategize how well it can gather knowledge from the management, employees and other stakeholders and in addition organize, share and analyze this knowledge. The main challenge facing management in terms of knowledge management it is how to measure and quantify knowledge, generally this is not possible. However, through how employees and management make use and expend their knowledge, the organization can be in a position to classify knowledge through how knowledgeable each person is. (Melodena 2009), says that, this is done by observing how an employee solves problems using the skills and the ability he or she has.

Social capital is linked to knowledge management because there should be a plan on how employees and management can gather, organize, share and analyze what they have in terms of knowledge delivered through norms and values. A good example of social capital, it is when one secures a job position not because of how qualified he or she is, but on the basis of a person he or she knows in such an organization. Social capital creates relationships between an organization and people, because this is where people show what they possess. Knowledge management can be linked to economic, human and social capitals (Edwards, 2002). This is to mean that through these capitals knowledge is evident and which needs to be managed properly.

Social capital should also be gathered, organized, shared and analyzed like the idea in knowledge management. Social capital may change because of the dynamic changes in social ties, such as when people move from one area to another due to job transfers, change of lifestyle among others. When an organization has strategically planned for knowledge management, benefits acquired through social capital will still be found within the organization because the organization had created a way in which its employees shared their knowledge and values exiting in their social ties.

Knowledge management benefits the organization in the sense that when this knowledge is passed on to the next person, the same knowledge will be found even when the other person has retired or moved to another place. Therefore, in the same sense social capital should be handled as knowledge management, by creating an environment where people can continually share what they have and then what has been gathered and shared should then be organized and analyzed to be stored in an organization database for use in the future.

In an organization or any other institution people collectively create ties and social relationships usually because they have something in common, or there are norms and other values they share. People possess different ideas, knowledge, skills and qualification that they share with the rest of the people around them. Social capital can be associated with human capital, cultural, wealth, economic growth and personality. There is knowledge among all these forms of capital and the main challenge is how to make use of them in a responsible manner that will help an organization grow and achieve its overall objectives (Oxoby 2009).

Human capital can be seen in terms of skills, ideas, experience, knowledge and qualifications that people possess. In social capital, human capital is seen to be the most utilized form of capital because people use constitutes of human capital to help each other. To fully make use of human capital people in those social ties should trust each other, which is usually the case because relationships are created through trust. (Kianto 2010) indicates that, when people socially bring their human capital, the organization should plan on how to gather, organize, share and analyze the human capital so that it can benefit the organization and the employees also.

In every organization there is always a way of doing things created by the norms, beliefs and values employees and the management share. An organization has a culture that makes that help its people identify themselves with it. These norms, believes and values are helpful because they help people create ties and relationships enhancing social capital. These norms, believes and values can be handled as knowledge, and therefore the organization’s role is strategically plan on how this culture can be benefit the organization through gathering, organizing, sharing and analyzing as means of managing the knowledge. Economic growth and wealth are other forms of capital that can be linked to social capital.

People usually create wealth through shared ties and relationships and collectively share this wealth and economic growth among themselves or with other people. Without sharing this wealth and economic welfare, social capital cannot be established. According to, (Wallis 2004), economic growth and social capital help the organization create relationships that help employees work cohesively hence achieve organizational and personal goals. The best thing is for the organization to plan on knowledge management because wealth and economic growth are usually linked to people with ideas, skills and qualification that they have expended well.

Personality of a person can be linked to social capital because people hold behaviors, attributes and characters that they can use for the benefit of others. Relationships among different people can bring about different experiences, skills and qualifications that make a person perceive things the way he or she does, or makes them behave the way they do. (Madsen 2004), remarks that, personality defines values and norms a person holds and knowledge that they possess that makes them behave the way they do. It is important to deal with personalities people have because they define how knowledgeable and valuable to the organization.

These forms of capital of human, economic growth, personality and culture are used together with social capital to enhance value in an organization because they all constitute knowledge in terms of ideas, experiences, qualifications and skills that people share among themselves through values, norms and beliefs to help them achieve objectives, personal objectives or organizational objectives. It is advisable for an organization to create social networks through establishing norms where its people can meet and share what they possess in terms of knowledge. The whole idea is how the organization has strategically planned to gather, organize, share and analyze these resources so that they can help employees achieve their personal objectives in line with organizational objectives, (Wright 2006).


Edwards, R. 2002. Social Capital, A Sloan Work And Family Encyclopedia Entry. The Sloan

Work and Family Research Network.Vol.34, Issue 3, p.14.

Kianto, A., and J. Waajakoski. 2010. Linking social capital to organizational growth. Knowledge

Management Research & Practice. Vol.8, Issue 1, p 5.

Madsen, H. and Neergaard, H. 2004. Knowledge Intensive Entrepreneurship In A Social Capital

Perspective.. Journal of Enterprising Culture. Vol. 12, Issue 2, pp105-125.

Melodena, S. 2009. Strategic Branding Of Destinations: A Framework.

European Journal of Marketing. Volume: 43 Issue: 5/6. p.613.

Oxoby, R. 2009. Understanding Social Inclusion, Social Cohesion, And Social Capital

International Journal of Social Economics. Volume: 36 Issue: 12. p.1134.

Wallis, J. Paul K, Brian D. 2004. Social Economics And Social Capital Source:

International Journal of Social Economics. Volume: 31 Issue.3. p160.

Wright, David. 2006. Cultural capital and the literary field. Cultural Trends.

Vol. 15 Issue 2/3, p123-139


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