Exploring social capital in the construction firm

Mike Bresnen, Linda Edelman, Sue Newell, Harry Scarbrough, Jacky Swan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social capital, which derives from the network of social relationships in which people are embedded, has increasingly been seen as a resource that firms can use and which enables them to tap into and exploit their intellectual capital and, thus, release the firm's innovative potential. Yet, in project-based organizations, there remain many barriers and pitfalls in any attempt to exploit human resource potential in this way. In particular, the one-off nature of project tasks and teams and the importance of individuals' embodied knowledge and learning ensure that while social capital may assume greater importance, at the same time its capture becomes more problematic. This paper presents findings from a research project undertaken in the UK that explores knowledge management for project-based learning across a range of industrial sectors, including construction. Drawing upon a case study analysis of project-based learning in a construction firm, it applies an already established framework to examine the paradoxes that arise when attempts are made to mobilize social capital. © 2005 Taylor & Francis Group Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-244
Number of pages9
JournalBuilding Research and Information
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2005


  • Knowledge management
  • Project-based learning
  • Social capital


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