Social capital and political bias in knowledge sharing: An exploratory study
The benefits of social capital for the sharing of knowledge are frequently emphasized in the literature (Burt, 1997; Kostava & Roth, 2003; Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998; Tsai, 2000). However, a few authors have also begun to draw our attention towards the drawbacks of social capital for the working of organizations (Adler & Kwon, 2002; Edelman, Bresnen, Newell, & Scarbrough, 2004). In particular, instrumental social capital –as opposed to consummatory social capital- is seen as linked to power relations, which can inhibit the sharing of knowledge (Burt, 1997; Kale et al., 2000). To contribute to this debate on the role of social capital, we carried out a qualitative study in two Belgian companies. Our findings reveal that social capital tends to enhance the sharing of knowledge but that instrumental social capital in particular reflects opportunistic and political objectives, which causes a selective form of knowledge sharing.
case studies, informal networking, knowledge sharing, politicking, social capital
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