Enabling positive social capital in organizations

By: Wayne Baker, Jane Dutton

Baker, W., & Dutton, J.E. (2007). Enabling positive social capital in organizations. In J.E. Dutton & B. Ragins (Eds.), Exploring positive relationships at work: Building a theoretical and research foundation (pp. 325-346). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.


This chapter identifies and elaborates organizational practices and social mechanisms that create and sustain positive social capital in work organizations. It adds to the understanding of positive relationships at work by considering the resource-producing capabilities of high-quality connections (HQCs) and reciprocity. By being in this form of connection and practicing this type of interaction, dyads, teams, and organizations create valuable assets, such as trust, confidence, affirmation, energy, and joy. These are durable resources that have impact beyond the initial connecting point between two or more individuals (Fredrickson, 1998). This chapter shows how two forms of positive social capital (HQCs and reciprocity) expand the capacities of both individuals and groups. Further, it identifies key enablers of each form of positive social capital. Finally, it articulates the underlying  mechanisms (motivation and opportunity structures) linking enablers and outcomes.