Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Building Professional Social Capital among Minority Business Students

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Building Professional Social Capital among Minority Business Students

Article excerpt


Scholarly interest in the concept of social capital among business scholars has been growing since appearing in the literature over a decade ago (Adler & Kwon, 2002). In its broadest sense, social capital suggests that one's family, friends, and associates are an important asset that can be utilized in a crisis, enjoyed, or be leveraged for material gain such as a new job (Woolcock & Narayan, 2000). The essence of social capital is that the goodwill that others have toward us is a valuable resource. Goodwill involves sympathy, trust, and forgiveness by friends, family, and colleagues. The benefits of social capital flow from the information, influence, and camaraderie it provides (Adler & Kwon, 2002). The sources of social capital lie within the social structure or community in which the individual resides. Two types of social capital have been noted in the literature: bridging and bonding. Bridging involves cultivating external relationships in different communities, while bonding refers to individual internal ties or self-identity within the community (Adler & Kwon, 2002).

The management literature has linked social capital to career success (Burt, 2009; Gabbay & Zuckerman, 1998; Podolny & Baron, 1997; Siebert, Kraimer, & Liden, 2001). Seminal studies suggest that social capital can be understood via the size and composition of network structures and the nature of social resources in the network. The impact of social resources on career success are thought to be related to three network benefits: access to information, resources, and mentorship (Siebert, Kraimer, & Liden, 2001).

The importance of higher education to career success is well documented; however there is a growing understanding that social capital is also a significant factor, especially in acquiring employment within a student's major (Gerard, 2012; McCorkle & McCorkle, 2012; Peterson & Dover, 2014). College students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and communities often have limited social capital relevant to the business world and relatively few professional networks, or role models (Fairchild & Robinson, 2004; St. John, 2013; Smith, 2005). As such, the development of professional social capital while in school is important to business students from these backgrounds. With rising student debt loads and default rates, as well as low graduation rates, historically black universities are facing increasing questions about the value proposition of higher education by students, parents, regulators, and the government (Clay, 2012). Hence, understanding the role of social capital in achieving "gainful employment" among their student body is critical.

Technological advances have enabled the rapid growth of social media over the past decade. As a result, most students are customers of popular social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram. These sites have changed the way students and society at large learn, communicate, and participate in the marketplace of ideas, products, and sendees. While students are familiar with the principles and practices of social networking in personal relationships, recent research has revealed that they are unfamiliar with the application of social media for personal branding, professional networking, and career success (Lewis, Messina, & Wellington, 2014).

In the business context, Linkedln is the leading professional networking site used by millions of people around the world to build and maintain effective professional networks (Peterson & Dover, 2014). Unfortunately, recent research shows that business students are relatively unfamiliar with this powerful tool (Lewis, Messina, & Wellington, 2014). Furthermore, scholarly exploration of the use and impact of social media-based professional networking in the classroom among business students has been quite limited (Gerard, 2012; McCorkle & McCorkle, 2012; Peterson & Dover, 2014). …

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