Social Capital

Social Capital = The gathering of favours that in turn become a form of currency.

Social capital is not a new concept. If you look into organisations, you will find that outside of the command and order system, there is an intricate system of networks that function and perform tasks that may not be indicated by their line managers. Often we can recognise the people who are the “go to persons”. They either have or can get the information required. And they can lobby for project participation and motivation. People gather or become in debt thus forming a social bank of credits and debits that cannot be explained by their job description.

While it is largely acknowledged to be present in the corporate world (at least until now), does it exist outside in the social circles? I wonder.

In today’s society, the currency among friends seems, and probably rightly som to be completely different. The level of fun they can have to gather, maximising that forms a priority criteria. People hang out with people for the fun factor, similar interests and mutual benefits.

In primitive society, people are more dependent on the community. If I needed sugar but ran out, I could call on a neighbour for a favour. In turn, I may make a cake and offer them a part as repayment for their help. Today, everything is at our doorstep, if indeed I had ran out of sugar, I could run down to the 24 hour convenient store for some. People are more independent today with enablers such as internet, technology, innovations and commercialisation.

What I wonder continuously is that while social capital is a form of currency of favours in the corporate world, in effect, many of my true friendships came from my colleagues and ex-colleagues. While we turn to each other for favours, the willingness to step out of our way to make someone’s life easier is deeply appreciated. It had ceased to become just a form of currency but built towards sincere gratitude that form the building blocks of friendships.

By contrast, I think I have yet to master the capital for friends. I have great friends who had seen me through tough times but I can hardly recall any accumulation of favours. On the other hand, I can also remember handing out favours to people who then turn out not desiring anything other than that.

So, with this new generation with strong focus on fun, social networks, cool factor, will that seeped into the corporate world? And will social capital continue to be a concept that remains?

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