Social Networks and Organisational Performance: The Mediating Effects of Social Capital and Resource Acquisition. / Guan, Helen.

2016. 282 p.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Unpublished

Documents

Abstract

In the literature pertaining to social networks and social capital, the former have been shown to influence organisational performance. Previous studies have examined this influence, but have yielded diverging and inconsistent results. Some empirical studies found that social networks positively affect organisational performance, while others reported the exact opposite. But the former studies did not clarify which of the cooperation and coordination components of social capital are responsible for the positive effects on organisational performance that enable collective actions. Neither did they examine how social networks at the individual level transfer to the organisational one, where, in turn, they have positive effects on organisational performance.

In order to explain the inconsistency in the results, this study aims to explore the relationship between social networks and organisational performance in Chinese listed companies. To achieve this aim, this study identifies three types of social networks (business ties, government ties, and managerial ties) as the structural dimensions of social capital that, affect organisational performance via five of their key components (trust, emotional commitment, reciprocity, sharing norms, and collective goals) and the three forms of resource acquisition (access to information, organisational learning, and organisational social capital). The relationship was examined by testing the mediating effects of the three forms of resource acquisition and the five key components of social networks.

The data were collected through the survey of a sample of 400 Chinese listed companies and by means of semi-structured interviews with 20 senior managers from 20 Chinese listed firms. A structural equation model was created to test the mediating effects of two sets of variables on this relationship by using survey data analysis, as well as employing interview analyses to explain the survey results for this relationship.

This study finds that the three forms of resource acquisition and a key component of social networks, reciprocity, play a mediating role in the positive relationship between the three types of social networks and organisational performance, but that the other four key components (trust, emotional commitment, sharing norms and collective goals) do not. The result may be due to risks exist in trust and emotional commitment based relationships within the three types of social networks, which hinder the focal firm in achieving its organisational goals, such as profit and growth.

This study makes several theoretical, methodological, and practical contributions. First, it contributes to the development of a conceptual framework for the relationship between social networks and organisational performance by conceptualising and testing the mediating effects of two sets of variables on it. Second, it contributes to the understanding of how the three types of Chinese social networks transfer from the individual level to the organisational level through the three forms of resource acquisition, leading to improved organisational performance. Third, it is the first to examine the effect of the three dimensions of social capital (structural, relational, and cognitive) on organisational performance. In this, it differs from previous such studies, which examined the effect of only one such dimension (either the structural or the relational one). Fourth, this study contributes to the examination of whether and how the cognitive dimensions of social capital, i.e., sharing norms and collective goals play coordinating and cooperating roles within traditional Chinese collective culture, influencing the organisational performance of Chinese listed firms. Fifth, it contributes to the examination of whether and how the relational dimensions of social capital (trust, emotional commitment, and reciprocity) play coordinating and cooperating roles, leading to positive effects on organisational performance. Sixth, it contributes to the understanding of the three types of social networks, including how internal and external stakeholders influence organisational performance in the Chinese context. Besides these six key theoretical contributions, this study makes a key methodological contribution. No previous Chinese social network study adopted a qualitative or mixed (quantitative and qualitative) approach to investigate the relationship between Chinese social networks and organisational performance.The study used a qualitative approach to explain the survey results, thus contributing to the understanding of how Chinese listed companies use social networks to achieve their profit and growth goals, among others. Further, it makes a practical contribution with regard to how the three types of social networks can be used to achieve organisational goals or improve organisational performance in terms of how they can be shifted from the individual level to the organisational level. For example, managers using their close connections with business partners, government officials and employees to exchange information, knowledge, and ideas, and to innovate.






Original languageEnglish
QualificationPh.D.
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award date24 Aug 2016
Publication statusUnpublished - 2016
This open access research output is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

ID: 26857007