Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

The Association between Social Capital and Membership of Organisations Amongst Polish Students

Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

The Association between Social Capital and Membership of Organisations Amongst Polish Students

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)


Over the last 25 years, Poland has achieved the greatest economic growth among the post-communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe. It has been argued (Gomulka, 2014) that Poland's economic growth has resulted from investment in foreign technology and human capital and unless Poland becomes more innovative, it will fall into the middle-income trap. In order to become more innovative, Poland needs to both invest in research and develop an atmosphere promoting innovation, i.e. in the language of economics and sociology raise the level of social capital. However, studies indicate that the level of social capital in Poland is very low, e.g. Poles express a very low level of trust in the political system and media, as well as not being socially active (Herrmann, 2014).

This project1 is aimed at describing social capital among Polish students, which will give an indication of the challenges and opportunities facing the Polish economy in the short-and medium-term. It may be problematic that these students are not representative of the Polish population as a whole. However, today's students are likely to be the motors of Poland's economic growth in the relatively near future. This article aims to analyse the relationship of organisation membership to social capital amongst Polish students based on a questionnaire, which looked at various components of social capital, and three experimental games: "Ultimatum" (Güth et al., 1982), "Trust" (Berg et al., 1995) and "Public Goods" (Isaac and Walker, 1988). These games were designed to illustrate norms of cooperation and trust, as well as reciprocation, both negative ("an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth") and positive ("you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours"). Based on the results of the questionnaire and the games, we highlight aspects of social capital which are common to various types of organisation and describe how the type of an organisation modulates the relationship between social capital and membership.

In terms of previous research in this field, Migheli (2012) carried out a similar study on the relationship between social capital and behaviour in the Trust Game using students from Italy, Belgium and Norway. Although a large number of experimental studies using these games have been used in many countries, he stated that as far as he knew it was the first such large scale study. We use the same version of the Trust Game as Migheli (2012). Cardenas et al. (2009) carried out such a large scale study in Latin America. However, they used a different version of the trust game and hence our results are not directly comparable.

A review of the literature on social capital and organisation membership is given in Section 1. Section 2 outlines the study procedure and questionnaire. The statistical analysis used is described in Section 3. Section 4 presents the games. Section 5 describes the relationship of organisation membership to social capital based on the answers to the questionnaire. The relationship of organisation membership to social capital on the basis on the decisions made in the games is presented in Section 6. The final section gives some conclusions, comparisons to the results of Migheli (2012) and directions for future research.

1.Background and Literature Review

Social capital can be interpreted in its wide sense as the informal and formal structures, e.g. laws, public and voluntary institutions, personal and professional relationships, which together determine the behavioural norms of a society (Platje, 2004). Hence, social capital is a multi-dimensional concept. Generalized trust is seen to be a key component of social capital, promoting co-operation in the workplace and via that innovation (Fukayama, 1995). An atmosphere of trust allows people to strive to achieve goals, rather than to ensure security. Over the past 20 years, Poland has exhibited consistent economic growth. …

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