The Effects of Social Capital Levels in Elementary Schools on Organizational Information Sharing

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study aims to assess the effects of social capital levels at elementary schools on organizational information sharing as reported by teachers. Participants were 267 teachers selected randomly from 16 elementary schools; schools also selected randomly among 42 elementary schools located in the city center of Batman. The data were analyzed by using a regression model and correlation analysis on the total scores obtained by using mean scores from the "Scale for Social Capital at Schools" and "Scale for Information Sharing at Schools." The findings showed that a statistically meaningful relationship existed between all subdimensions of social capital and organizational information sharing. The correlation coefficients revealed that the highest correlation existed between the trust dimension of social capital and organizational information sharing. These results indicate that the information sharing levels at schools were, overall, strongly predicted by social capital and that the regression model was highly supported by the data set at hand. Considering these findings, it is possible to argue that school administrators can make significant use of social capital in improving information sharing levels within their schools.

Key Words

Social Capital at Schools, Organizational Information Sharing, Social Capital and Information Sharing, Trust.

The types of capital mentioned in contemporary social sciences literature have become rather diverse. In addition to Marx's classical definition of capital, many other types such as intellectual (Stewart, 1997), human (Becker, 1985), cultural (Bourdieu, 1986) and symbolic (Bourdieu, 1989) capital have been analyzed in the literature. The concept of social capital, coined by Hanifan in 1916 while evaluating the school system in West Virginia, has become another popular topic of study particularly after the 1980's (Woolcock & Narayan, 2000). Since it is based on human relations, social capital strengthens cooperation between individuals, creates synergy, and plays an important functional role in many organizations (Fukuyama, 2005; Putnam, 2000).

Social capital is based on individual relations that emerge as a result of and are shaped by group membership (Bourdieu, 1986). Some negative effects of social capital, which is, in general, regarded as a positive potential in literature, are also mentioned. According to Bourdie (1986) the owned connections can provide the maintenance of the individuals' privileged status and may lead to a more privileged position via social nets and connections even if the humanistic capital is low. Similarly, Putnam (2000) states that in some groups where social capital is powerful, people - by being effected by some connections causing blindness and social integration-may grow a prejudiced attitudes towards the ones that are out of the group. Also, in social structures, the possibility that the influential group can take the weaker group under his control (Adler & Kwon, 2002; Cohen & Prusak, 2001) and in this way the conditon that the benefit of a person or a group can be a lost for others (Portes & Landolt, 2000).

Fukuyama (2001), who has come up with a trust centric approach, dwells mainly on positive effects of social capital. However, he explains its negative effects with the 'radius of trust' approach. It would be a better approach to assess the social capital as a potential that promotes the cooperation among individuals and groups in terms of education system (which shows an open system characteristics) and schools. In this regard, in this study, it is taken for granted that social capital improves the relationship and interaction between individuals and groups function as a potential source in increasing organizational performance of schools. Moreover, a lot of studies that have researched the correlation of educational success and social capital (Coleman, 1988; Dika & Singh, 2002; Putnam, 2004; Stanton-Salazar & Dornbusch, 1995) indicate that social capital is an essential predictor of school success. …