Munich Business School logo

Conference Paper on Social Capital

The concept of social capital is something I’ve been interested in ever since the beginning of my PhD (here’s a blog post from 2010, for example). This summer, I presented a conceptual paper on the development of social capital in online communities at the 20th Americas Conference on Information Systems in Savannah, GA. You’ll find the abstract, the conference presentation, and the link to the final article below.

“The present paper extends social capital theory by exploring the creation of social capital in a highly innovative, yet under-researched organizational form: online communities. It is shown that social capital development has thus far not been sufficiently theorized and research on how social capital may be created in online communities is missing altogether. Attempting to fill this gap, I draw on earlier contributions to the sociological literature by Coleman and Bourdieu. More specifically, four mechanisms that lead to the creation of social capital are identified, namely closure, stability, interdependence, and interaction. The concept of fluidity is then introduced as an important characteristic of online communities. The impact of fluidity on the mechanisms for social capital development is consequently scrutinized and some propositions are developed. The paper concludes with a discussion of opportunities for overcoming the challenges identified earlier. Implications for research and practice are advanced.” Continue reading Conference Paper on Social Capital

How to Hit the Enterprise 2.0 Bullseye by @amcafee

I mentioned Andrew McAfee and his book ‘Enterprise 2.0’ in an earlier blog post and would like to come back to him now. In Chapter 4 of his book, Andy introduces the notion of the Enterprise 2.0 Bullseye (see below graph). The logic of the bullseye builds on Granovetter’s (1973) and Burt’s (1992) work on the strength of weak ties and structural holes. Andy argues that the bullseye helps to focus Enterprise 2.0 efforts by distinguishing the different types of ties between people, or employees, and how these ties may be maintained or altered by the use of social software (which he calls ESSPs). Cooperation between close colleagues, or strong ties, may be facilitated by wikis, whereas social network sites are more suitable to maintain a large network of acquaintances, or loose ties. Blogs, in turn, are seen to be enablers for converting potential into actual contacts. Last but not least, there are forms of cooperation, for example in the case of prediction markets, when no tie between actors is present and yet the individuals involved can productively interact. There are a number of other studies that investigate the impact of ICT on social capital, yet Andy manages to match ties and technologies. This is an interesting step forward.



Burt, R. S. (1992). Structural holes: the social structure of competition. Harvard University Press.

Granovetter, M. S. (1973). The strength of weak ties. American journal of sociology, 78(6), 1360.

McAfee, A. (2009). Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges. Harvard Business School Press. 

Social Media & Organizational Learning: A Lesson

Recently, I co-lectured a number of sessions on Organizational Learning at the University of Nottingham and talked to students on various programs about how organizations leverage exisiting networks and use social media to foster knowledge creation and collaboration. I introduced some of the concepts described in earlier posts, such as Ross Dawson’s Social Media Strategy Framework and Brian Solis’ Conversation Prism.

Furthermore, I tried to embed the aforementioned practitioner models in a more theoretical context. For this purpose, I used the papers by Inkpen & Tsang (2005) as well as Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998). We explored the concept and dimensions of social capital and looked at how the latter may affect knowledge processes within networks.

I closed the sessions with a McKinsey survey which presents various tools that are currently used for internal knowledge management. Wikis, Blogs, RSS feeds and Video sharing were the killer applications in this category. I was very pleased with the questions raised during the sessions and the presentations that were produced as a result of my engagement. What a great feeling to inspire other minds. However, this doesn’t just work one way. One of the students, who used to be with Pfizer, a pharmaceutical company, shared with us some of the tools and concepts they used at work. This is how we met Jessica a.k.a. Dr. Enterprise 2.0.


Inkpen, A. C., & Tsang, E. W. K. 2005. Social Capital, Networks, and Knowledge Transfer. Academy of Management Review, 30(1): 146–165.

Nahapiet, J., & Ghoshal, S. 1998. Social Capital, Intellectual Capital, and the Organizational Advantage. Academy of Management Review, 23(2): 242–266.

So, you’re doing research on social media. Sounds interesting . . .

. . . but what do you actually do?

This is a question that I hear very frequently. By writing this blog, I hope I can shed some light on the life and the daily work of a PhD student.

Right now I am in the process of narrowing down my research focus. Admittedly, there are a lot of people writing and talking about social media. Many of them call themselves experts 😉 Apart from the academic literature, I have looked at a number of presentations on slideshare and read even more blog posts. I will share the most interesting bits with you over the coming months. What intrigues me most is to see what kind of people write about the subject and what professional background they have. Legal professionals, for example, tend to view strengths and weaknesses of social media tools differently from people in the communications sectors.

These are the areas surrounding social media that I find particularly interesting:

  1. History/Evolution
  2. Knowledge Management, Collaboration and Learning
  3. Human Resources
  4. Psychology
  5. The Future of Work
  6. Legal Issues
  7. Social Network Analysis
  8. Social Capital
  9. PR/Marketing
  10. Analytics/Metrics
  11. Science

Over the next few days, I will introduce each of these themes separately and explain why I think they are relevant. I will also provide a few references for existing literature and mention the people, events and institutions I have come across so far. Is there an area that you think I have missed? Where do you believe social media has the greatest impact?