Nipawin - Saturday, August 11, 2001 - by: Mario deSantis

common purpose

"When people trust each other, and when they share values, expectations, and goals, they are in a position to organize themselves to achieve some collective goals -- a common purpose" -- Gary Wehlage




We have talked about the debunking of the obsessive focus of our conventional leadership on productivity growth and of the equally obsessive social researches to look into correlational data to find the supposed truth. With a sigh of relief I realize that some of our researchers are looking into the social capital of our businesses.




The Institute of Chartered Accountants along with the Simon Fraser University's Centre for Innovation in Management and York University's Schulich School of Business are funding a research on the Social Capital of a business. Researcher Ann Svendsen explains that


"social capital is the value that's inbred in relationships between people. It has three elements: networking, trust and shared understanding of each other's goals. The aim of the research is to measure the quality of company-stakeholder [employees] relationships, find ways to raise social capital and consequently improve the bottom line of Canadian businesses".




Ms. Svendsen's co-researcher David Wheeler adds


"If we can unlock the secret of creating social capital, it will have profound and positive implications for Canadian firms and indeed the Canadian economy."


We must all congratulate this research on Social Capital, and what is more important beyond this research is that the repetitive use of this term 'Social Capital' will eventually influence our understanding to put people before money.




Social Capital is nothing else but a return to become civic in our work relationships so that trust replaces greed and conversations replace commands. James Coleman was first to define Social Capital as the resource of individuals that emerges from their social tie, and distinguished social capital from the financial capital found in bank accounts and the human capital found inside people's heads.




Robert Putnam has found evidence that civic virtues (Social Capital) influence socio-economic performance and summarized his results with the saying

singing &

"good government in Italy is a by-product of singing groups and soccer clubs."




Therefore, Coleman asserts that the intangible of civic virtues are a prerequisite for a good government and a good economy, and this assertion is contrary to the conventional wisdom in social science that civic virtue is an atavism destined to disappear with modernization.




Nicholas Lemann has acutely observed that at a time when social science has become a statistical art overwhelmingly concerned with correlation, Putnam's civic virtue can be the magic that will explain economic development.
  Related social and economic articles published by Ensign
  Community Collaboration and Social Capital: An Interview With Gary G. Wehlage, by Anne Turnbaugh Lockwood
  Unlocking the secret of success through social capital, Alan Daniels, Citizen Special, August 7, 2001
  Civic Participation, Social Capital and Leadership, Copyright © 1997 La Jolla Institute
  Kicking in Groups. Just as intriguing as Robert Putnam's theory that we are "bowling alone"-- that the bonds of civic association are dissolving--is how readily the theory has been accepted, by Nicholas Lemann, The Atlantic Monthly Company, April 1996