Building Social Capital

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Definition

Social capital as defined in the textbook: Management as “the goodwill stemming from your social relationships” (Bateman, et al., 2020).  Online connectivity has become the primary way we communicate.  The connections we have with others are not bound by immediate area or proximity, instead we now have acquaintances worldwide that we maintain contact with as well as friendships that evolve and flourish, while never physically meeting. This era of new communication has drastically changed how we think of connections from years past to future.   The degree and magnitude of these connections is limitless, and some would suggest effortless.

Articles Summary

In an article from 2017, Professional and personal social networking and enhancement of social capital in young adults, professors from San Jose State and Sonoma State Universities, undertook research to ascertain whether college students used a more social internet platform site or professionally oriented site for the purposes of developing social capital.  The two sites used for this study were Facebook and LinkedIn.  Dr. Roldan and Dr. Sutanonpaiboon, along with associate professor Richard Burkhard found that “contrary to expectations, the socially designed Facebook was more strongly associated with social-capital enhancing activities than the professional oriented LinkedIn”(Roldan et al., 2017, p.68). There were several reasons for this, it seemed that the Facebook platform was perceived as more interactive and customizable to user experience. They went on to say that Facebook was attractive to its users due to its informal relationship interactions. It was perceived by users that these relationships developed could be leveraged to become professional.  They made a point to say that they did not see any gender differences in their data, and went on to say, “gender is not related significantly with social capital enhancing activities on Facebook and LinkedIn” (Roldan et al. 2017, p.68).

On the other hand, in the article entitled Online social networking & entrepreneurs: The gender effect, Dr. Tammi Red of Ramapo College in New Jersey and Dr. Sibin Wu of the University of Texas, Rio Grande, studied that exact aspect that Roldan et al., found to be insignificant.  They used Facebook as well as LinkedIn for their hypothesis as they felt Facebook represented social oriented websites while LinkedIn was representative of the professional social capital building website.  They found a strong correlation between female users and their use of Facebook for relationship enhancing activities while males predominately used LinkedIn, as they felt it was a more professional platform for professional relationships (Redd and Wu, 2016).   Interesting, they attributed these findings to gender behavior, “women are less likely than men to use online social networks to access funding, training and skills, and business services. Men on the other hand are less likely than women to access creativity and ideas, emotional support and information and advice” (Redd and Wu, 2016).

Discussion

In the study performed by Roldan et al., they surmised that one major reason study participants identified with the social platform Facebook, was its informal platform for relationship building.  What I find incredulous is that when examining the questions used in the survey of 292 students, there were no questions that would result in a person choosing a social platform over a professional platform.  If we are to assume that behavior can be determined accurately by pure observation, then we are ignoring behavior that is goal oriented.  If questions were formulated to elicit the choice of students given a goal-oriented behavior, such as looking for employment, researching a company’s product lines and organizational structure, I can logically predict that the results would have been very different.  This study was detached from the behavior they were hypothesizing.  I believe that to then take the step and suggest that gender behavior can be prescribed along with psychological analyzation, is borderline ludicrous.  “Breadth of tasks for which a person connects to the Internet –work-related, school-related, personal-related, how often individuals participate in any online activities interacting with others” (Roldan et al., 2017, p.58). These are just a couple of questions illustrating the disconnect to the researched subject.  My favorite survey question was having the respondent select which site they visited for news information; “national and international news, politics, health and financial information, government services, and the presidential elections” (Roldan et al., 2017, p.59).  LinkedIn is not a news source.  They are a platform that encourages the sharing of business information, the creation professional relationships along with communications related to industry.  Any news items are posted by a company spokesperson or individual and are more communicative in nature.  The fact that LinkedIn was misrepresented in the survey questions alone should disqualify this study.

In the study performed by Redd and Wu, they used a sample size of 392 self-identified entrepreneurs throughout the United States.  I would suggest that this focus on individuals who are trying to start a business enterprise elicit more reliable results.  By focusing on survey participants that are actively engaged in building a business, they are limiting the conclusions they can logically propose to a broader population. In order to verify this, I think repetitive studies should be given using other samplings before drawing conclusions to gender-based behaviors. The article does not provide the raw data of their research, such as, the questions used in their surveys.  For this reason, the data should be questioned.

References

Bateman, T., Snell, S., &Konopaske, R., M: Management, 6th Ed. Published by McGraw-Hill Education, New York, NY, 2020, IBSN: 978-1-260-48524

Redd, T., & Wu, S. (2016). Online social networking & entrepreneurs: The gender effect. Boca Raton: United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?qurl=https%3A%2F%2Fsearch.proquest.com%2Fdocview%2F1774571609%3Faccountid%3D1208

Roldan, M. M. H., Sutanonpaiboon, J., & Burkhard, R. (2017). Professional and personal social networking and enhancement of social capital in young adults. Journal of International Technology and Information Management, 26(3), 46-80. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?qurl=https%3A%2F%2Fsearch.proquest.com%2Fdocview%2F1981611643%3Faccountid%3D1208

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