In Good Company: How Social Capital Makes Organizations Work

Overview

Knowledge has always resided in organizations-but it wasn't until the Information Age put a premium on ideas that intellectual capital was recognized as a critical resource. Now, forces like technology, globalization, and the rise of free agency and virtual workplaces are bringing another form of "hidden" capital to the forefront.

In Good Company is the first book to examine the role that social capital-a company's "stock" of human connections such as trust, personal networks, ...

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Overview

Knowledge has always resided in organizations-but it wasn't until the Information Age put a premium on ideas that intellectual capital was recognized as a critical resource. Now, forces like technology, globalization, and the rise of free agency and virtual workplaces are bringing another form of "hidden" capital to the forefront.

In Good Company is the first book to examine the role that social capital-a company's "stock" of human connections such as trust, personal networks, and a sense of community-plays in thriving organizations. Written by leading knowledge management experts Don Cohen and Laurence Prusak, this groundbreaking book argues that social capital is so integral to business life that without it, cooperative action-and consequently productive work-isn't possible. The authors help today's leaders understand the nature and value of social capital, suggest ways they can encourage and enhance it, and explore how they can protect this vital but increasingly vulnerable resource in a volatile, virtual world.

Drawing on major social and economic theories, and the experiences of organizations including the World Bank, Aventis Pharma, Alcoa, Russell Reynolds, and UPS, In Good Company identifies the social elements that contribute to knowledge sharing, innovation, and high productivity. The authors convincingly show how almost every managerial decision-from hiring, firing, and promotion to implementing new technologies to designing office space-is an opportunity for social capital investment or loss. They also reveal the benefits that derive from investments in social capital, such as greater commitment and cooperation, increased talent retention, andmore intelligent responses to customer needs.

A landmark book on the critical role that relationships play in organizational success, In Good Company helps employees at all levels recognize the power of social capital to help people work better, and make organizations better places to work.

"We've known that social capital makes the world go around, but until In Good Company we've never been able to do much about it. Cohen and Prusak provide great examples, frameworks, and perspectives for actually improving the state of social capital in your firm."
—Thomas H. Davenport, Director, Accenture Institute for Strategic Change, and Distinguished Scholar in Residence, Babson College

"A wonderful survey of the invisible social resources that enable firms to be high performers, yet offer a meaningful environment for their employees. In Good Company should be mandatory reading for anyone wanting to understand how to balance the virtual workscape (telecommuting) with the office workscape."
—John Seely Brown, Chief Scientist of Xerox, and Coauthor of Social Life of Information

"Cohen and Prusak have written an eloquent book that shows how great companies create a quality of life at work that supports the exchange and creation of new knowledge. It is a message that should be heard not only by executives and stock analysts, but also by educators and students at business schools."
—Bruce Kogut, Felix Zandman Professor of International Management, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Author Biography: Don Cohen is a writer, consultant, and the editor of Knowledge Directions. Laurence Prusak is Executive Director of the IBM Institute for Knowledge Management and co-author of Working Knowledge: How Organizations Manage What They Know.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times
The book's novelty and appeal lie in the . . . attention to the power of commonplace conversations. . .
Booknews
Examining the role of social capital<-->trust, personal connections, a sense of community, and the like<-->in modern business, this book also explores the means of developing and protecting it. Applying social and economic theory to the experiences of organizations like the World Bank, Aventis Pharma, Alcoa, Russell Reynolds, and UPS, Cohen (a consultant) and Prusak (IBM Institute for Knowledge Management) describe the crucial role of relationships in organizations. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780875849133
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2001
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.43 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Chapter 1 In Good Company
Chapter 2 Trust: The Air We Breathe
Chapter 3 Networks and Communities: The Ties That Bind
Chapter 4 Social Place, Social Time
Chapter 5 Social Talk and Story: The Voice of Social Capital
Chapter 6 The Challenge of Volatility
Chapter 7 The Challenge of Virtuality
Coda The Future of Social Capital
Notes
Suggested Readings
Index
About the Authors
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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2001

    Human relationships are still #1 to companies surviving in an electronic commerce world.

    Companies will be more successful when they have established good content (work processes) and good context (work culture.) It is the topic of good context or what the authors call social capital that In Good Company explores. The book was a selected reading for my Electronic Commerce class at San Jose State University, CA. Many books in the electronic commerce genre explore pure content (information systems and information technologies) without a discussion of human interactions. In Good Company stresses the importance of positive human relationships in the work environment. Don Cohen and Laurence Prusak discuss such topics as modern day electronic mail, which has made business processes more efficient but not more effective. The concept of social capital is discussed in a well written and quick 200 pages. The authors draw upon their corporate consulting experiences and use helpful case studies on successful companies like IBM and United Parcel Service. The book would be enjoyed by anyone wanting to better understand or improve his or her working relationships in the modern work environment. The book is a must for anyone directly managing people or a project.

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