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Emergent social capital from styles of organizing: a case study of creative industry cluster in China

Zhang, Junxiang (2014) Emergent social capital from styles of organizing: a case study of creative industry cluster in China. MPhil thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The research presented here was inspired by the growing interest in enterprise cluster research and the need to better understand the creation of social capital in a cluster. By exploring how social capital is created and grown in a specific cluster, which adopts an innovative style of organizing, it will show that the creation and management of clusters is not only an economic issue, but also a social psychological one. This study not only aims to make a contribution to the literature of social capital and cluster, but also seeks to provide practical solutions for building sustainable creative clusters in China. In the theoretical part, an overview of China’s creative clusters and the challenges faced by their top-down style of organizing will be provided. After reviewing the classic literature of cluster and social capital, the potential contribution from social psychology to the construction of social capital in cluster will be examined. In the empirical part, the focus is on a specific bottom-up case named Xindanwei. The present researcher entered into the field as both an academic observer and a wine merchant. Two main research questions have guided the research: 1. What is social capital in the real-world cluster? 2. How can social capital be created in a cluster? Data were collected through semi-structured interviews, participant observation and web documents. Thematic analysis and a theory-driven approach were applied in the interpretation of data. The findings indicate the emergent and context-based nature of social capital, which appears to originate from dynamic guanxi (with physical, institutional and mental elements) rather than static network. Social capital is usually perceived as individually owned asset, but here it can also be co-owned by participating members in cluster. In order to generate social capital, it not only calls for a facilitative platform with multi-level installations, but also requires cluster members to take productive actions and consider the context constraints in the real world. In the end, a facilitative framework to create social capital in clusters is proposed.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Additional Information: © 2014 Junxiang Zhang
Uncontrolled Keywords: social capital, enterprise cluster, emergence, installation, guanxi, communities of practice
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Sets: Departments > Psychological and Behavioural Science
Supervisor: Lahlou, Saadi

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