The Effects of Social Capital on Organizational Performance in the Context of E-business: A Longitudinal Research

Project: Research

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  • Kwok Kee WEI (Principal Investigator / Project Coordinator)Department of Information Systems
  • Weiling KE (Co-Investigator)
  • Hefu LIU (Co-Investigator)
  • Yao Bin LU (Co-Investigator)


Social capital increasingly becomes a mechanism that engenders access to resources through social networks and thus, it is regarded as an enduring source of competitive advantage. Understanding the performance outcomes of social capital is of great significance and attracts attention from researchers and practitioners. However, the previous findings on the outcomes of social capital have been mixed and even controversial. Furthermore, more and more organizations are developing and managing their social networks via the Internet. The prevalence of the Internet thus is challenging our current understanding of social capital as the Internet affords open connection and low switching cost, and therefore reconstructs social networks. Yet, there is a dearth of research empirically exploring the outcomes of social capital and how dimensions of social capital (i.e., structural, relational, and cognitive capital) interact with each other in the context of e-business. As such, the true value of social capital remains unclear, and practitioners are left with little guidance on whether the purported benefits of social capital can be materialized in the Internet era.To address these pending research questions, our study aims to reveal (I) Salient factors rooted in social capital that are critical for performance in the context of e-business, (2) How dimensions of social capital are related differently with substantive and symbolic performance, respectively, (3) How structural, relational, and cognitive capital impact performance interactively. Drawing upon social capital and institutional theory, we develop a research framework on the relationship between social capital and organizational performance in the context of e-business. Specifically, we argue that social capital does not only impact substantive performance, but also influences symbolic performance. We further propose that structural, relational, and cognitive capital would improve organizational performance interactively, and their influences on substantive and symbolic performance would vary.To examine the proposed conceptual framework, we will conduct a longitudinal survey study in China. The results obtained will have significant theoretical and practical implications. It will contribute to the social capital and value creation literature by offering a more complete picture of how social capital influences organizational performance in the context of e-business in China. It will extend our understanding of the different effects of structural, relational, and cognitive capital on substantive and symbolic performance. Furthermore, this study may be among the first to investigate how structural, relational, and cognitive capital affect organizational performance interactively. The findings of this proposed research will contribute to the practice by offering guidelines regarding tactics for promoting the right social capital dimensions to enhance right organizational performance.


Project number9054004
Grant typeNSFC
Effective start/end date1/03/1126/11/14