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A Strong Social Capital

The proportion of small to medium sized businesses continues to grow in Sweden. On average, a net increase of approximately 50 thousand new businesses per year, and growth has been strong the last ten years.

I believe that in future it will pay off building networks between people, and I will give you examples of two social studies, which strengthens my view.

Social scientist Robert D. Putnam did in his doctoral dissertation in the 1970s, in response to the regionalization of the State administration, comparative studies between the northern and southern Italy. What then surprised him was the question, what really makes the north of Italy so much more successful? He found no explanation in the usual socioeconomic comparisons, and began searching for something else.

Putnam concluded that there is a degree of what he calls social capital building a welfare society. Social capital, according to Putnam, is the confidence between people that creates trust. Trust in turn allows for successful networking. Just this social capital and networking, he found well-developed in northern Italy. In Southern Italy, he found the more diverse interest groups, groups which are significantly inferior to cooperate with each other. There is a strong loyalty among members within an interest group, but deep divisions share them with other groups. It is these gaps that impede progress and economic growth, "says Putnam.

In Sweden in the 70's did ethnologist Åke Daun, a similar study in the community and northern village Båtskärsnäs. Like Putnam, he wondered, but in this case of another seemingly unlikely equation, namely how the residents could have substantially higher living standards than income showed. With high living standards means Daun that the residents owned villa, boat and car, but nevertheless had on average low income. The answer was according to Daun that they helped each other in the village in the form of barter trade with various services, which is neither recorded nor appear in any statistics.

I argue that these two studies clearly describe the importance of networking between people. Through collaboration and project organizations one can create much better preconditions and flexibility. A flexibility required for a constantly changing global market.

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About the Author

Lars Larsson, CREADEV
Holländargatan 27
Bayside, NY 11359

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