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Beyond bridging and bonding: the role of social capital in organizations

Collaboration with faculty from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Published in Community Development Journal


Social capital –networks that promote trust, norms, and reciprocity - is a vital asset that can be used to improve communities. Despite its positive socioeconomic impacts, how community organizations use social capital remains unclear. We conducted a series of semi-structured interviews to examine the role of social capital in community development organizations (CDFIs, CDCs, etc.). Using a resource-based lens, our data show that these entities vary widely in their ability to access social capital networks. Paradoxically, there may be an underlying minimal prerequisite capacity required to access benefits in social capital networks. Such findings challenge some traditional theoretical narratives of social capital for smaller organizations.


CSBDF’s partnerships include other CDFIs and a variety of community development organizations. Our structures are different, but our mission is the same: creating a more sustainable and equitable economy for all North Carolinians. Social capital is much like the financial capital we provide to entrepreneurs – a resource that can be drawn upon and “spent” to benefit the communities we work in. Though it’s not always easy to do in practice, this research shows how community development organizations leverage social capital to magnify their impact.


Beyond Bridging and Bonding
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Williams, Teshanee, McCall, Jamie, Berner, Maureen, and Anita Brown-Graham. 2022. “Beyond Bridging and Bonding: The Role of Social Capital in Organizations.” Community Development Journal, 57(4): 769-792.

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