Trust - the new value of the network economy

As long as the competition takes place between separate units, the main operating element of the economy is related to product quality. The economic development in heterogeneous cooperation networks brings significant change. The competition goes between "actors - network" (and not between separate companies) making success depends on the internal operation of networks. Networks, it is true, work on the basis of legal regulations, but the main factor remains the behavior of each network member who has a "space action" very high. This behavior refers to many aspects of loyalty to the network. Can some "components" of the network to a practical disadvantage duplicitous game network for private corporate interests?

The mutual trust of the network components is the basic glue in the cooperation framework. Traditionally the involvement of moral values in economic activity was more difficult to be ensured. Networks bring moral values into the "heart" of economy, generating new mechanisms in which a country's national culture plays a role, exceeding what was there before, namely organizational culture.

So far, "western economies have encouraged, in general, two types of industrial relations: some of market type where goods are changed based on complete understanding between independent actors, other hierarchical, in which goods are exchanged between actors correlated in the same company based on administrative link. But a network, according to Shumpei Kumon is "one in which (...) type is mainly mutual consensual acts / industrial-oriented" and the actors have some sort of mutual continuity of their informal relations. Thus, the network achieved savings in transaction costs in large organizations, through savings in overhead and administration costs of large organizations."[1]

The degree of confidence on which the networks work is not unique, depending on national cultures. The confidence - as a mutual moral obligation - depends on the generalization of it among people in general, without a direct determination. The confidence in the network is similar, in a sense, what is true for the relationship between banks and the public. Generalized at the economic scale in collaborative networks, trust leads to an axiological and spiritualization of economies.

What is the social capital?

"Capitalization of trust" is a fundamental factor in competitive power networks. As we saw "human beings, frequently, do not act as rational utility maximum of (...), but invest in economic activity many of the moral values of their social life overall." Similarly, the social capital becomes more important in the functioning of the network economy. The term "social capital" was introduced by Jones Colleman, having the meaning the "people's ability to work together for common goals, groups and organizations."[2]

In the economy, it has become established the concept of "human capital" as an alternative to capital embedded in the earth, plants, tools, machines, etc. "Colleman showed that, together with skill and knowledge, a specific part of human capital had to do with people's ability to associate with each other, an essential fact not only for economic, but also virtually for every other aspect of social existence as such (...). The social capital is the capability that arises from the predominance of confidence* in a society or in certain areas of it (...). Social capital differs from other forms of human capital to the extent that is usually created and transmitted through cultural mechanisms like religion, tradition or historical context."[3]

Therefore, an analysis of social capital assumes that it is a form of human capital. Another interpretation gives the concept of social capital the meaning of a privileged position of a player in the social structure providing the opportunities and advantages. "Certain forms of network structure, called social capital, can strengthen the capacity of a director to identify and develop these opportunities."[4]

Trust, correctness, mutual respect of network partners create through social capital - a moral community. "The group, in addition, must adopt common standards as a test before becoming generalized among group members. In other words, social capital cannot be ensured simply by individual action alone. It is based on the prevailing social virtues rather than the individual."[5]

Where there is no mutual trust will act only formal standards system that need to be constantly negotiated. Based on the special role of moral behavior in business, the European Union passed to the promotion of corporate social responsibility principle which has an action value special both within networks and in their relationship to environment, and in their relationship to the environment. As I stated, "Corporate social responsibility is essentially a concept whereby companies decide how expressing voluntarily contribute to a better society and a cleaner environment (...). Most definitions describe it as a concept whereby companies integrate social interests and the environment on their business operations and in their interactions with those who have common interests in their businesses ("stakeholders") on a voluntary basis."[6] Putting trust at the basis of networks activities, the economy transforms in many directions.

  • [1] Fukuyama, Francis (1995), Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity. New York: The Free Press, 204. Ibid., 360.
  • [2] Colleman, Jones S. (1998), "Social Capital in the Creation of Human Capital," American Journal of Sociology. no. 94. See Fukuyama, Francis, op. cit., 10.
  • [3] Fukuyama, Francis, op. cit., 20, 26 (*-our highlight)
  • [4] Burt Ronald S, (1995), "Le capital social, les troux structuraux et l'entrepreneur," Revue française de sociologie. Paris, no. 4, 601.
  • [5] Ibid., 27.
  • [6] *** (2001), Green Paper. Promoting a European Framework for Corporate Social Responsibility. European Communities, Luxemburg, 58.
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