Social capital involves social relations and networks, norms of reciprocity, and trust, which facilitate co-ordination and cooperation for mutual benefit. Traditionally, social capital has been studied in neighbourhoods, communities, societies and even nations. More recently, however, researchers have also examined social capital at workplaces. This is justifiable because, by definition, social capital is not restricted to any particular social entity or social networks of any specific size. Furthermore, at work, people are typically exposed to a reasonable amount of social relations and day-to-day interactions. Thus, the workplace may constitute an important social context for social capital. This chapter introduces the recent extension of social capital research into workplaces. We first discuss the conceptual and empirical backgrounds of workplace social capital research, highlighting the relations with this research in community settings. Then we review the ways in which social capital has been assessed at workplaces, and look at the research on social capital at the workplace as a determinant of employee health. In addition, we provide results from a comparative study between Finland and Japan, to highlight the extent to which this association may be dependent on cultural context. We close this chapter by suggesting directions for further social capital research in workplaces.
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