Measuring social capital in the Basque Country: an eclectic approach
Etxabe Iruretagoiena, Igor
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In the last decades, the literature of social capital has comprised a growing number of contributions in fields as diverse as the theory of organisation, education, health, sociology and economics. In the economic sphere, the influence of social capital is acknowledged on account of its key role for innovation since it is a process that highly depends on social action. Simply put, good social relations facilitate communication, and a network of actors based on trust and common cognitive elements is seen as an optimal space to share resources that can result in interactive learning. Social capital is, however, a controversial concept, primarily due to its ambiguity and subsequent difficulties for measurement. In order to overcome these limitations, this dissertation introduces an eclectic approach, involving a set of indicators regarding different dimensions (structural, relational and cognitive), levels (micro, meso and macro), scales (region and city), agents (cluster-associations, firms and individuals), time-frames (static, short-term and long-tern) and disciplines (economic history, economics, evolutionary economic geography, network theory, etc.). This PhD thesis provides interesting policy implications for public authorities of the Basque Country. First, it suggests the need for much more rigorous and frequent diagnoses of the cluster structural organisation conducive to repair the network¿s imperfections and monitor the position and role of the actors at different scales. At the same time, institutions should be aware of informal networking as an alternative way of bringing regional actors together. Opportunities for casual encounters (online but especially offline) should be granted and equally measured to ensure the cooperation between companies and institutions. To this end, the (hi)story of Eibar may be a good mirror to look at.