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Copyright eContent Management Pty Ltd. Innovation: management, policy & practice (2010) 12: 105117.

Social capital and individual

innovativeness in university
research networks
Departamento de Administracin de Empresas y Marketing, University of Seville, Spain

Departamento de Administracin de Empresas y Marketing, University of Seville, Spain
Many studies have examined the relations between individuals and organizations and their influence on innovativeness. Some have looked at networks that improve innovative activity at an organizational, departmental and individual level, using in the latter case the individuals egonet. This
study explores the way in which an individuals social capital and each of its three dimensions
affect innovativeness. Having assessed the entire network of a university department and calculated
the social capital of its members, their innovativeness was compared on the basis of their scientific
production. The results show that the positions of researchers in the network structure and network
quality are less important than the resources that they are able to access through their relations.
Keywords: individual level, innovativeness, network structure, university research, resources, social capital


etwork analysis in the field of management

has been growing for over a decade as a
means of understanding the relations that arise
within and between organizations, beyond any
that may arise between a mere dyad or pair of
actors (Nohria & Eccles 1992; Gulati 1999;
Gulati, Nohria & Zaheer 2000). The study of networks and their methods of operating Social
Network Analysis (SNA) has been employed in
different fields of management, and many investigations have concentrated on gaining a better
understanding of innovative results by studying
relations between both individual and organizational actors (Ahuja 2000; Inkpen & Tsang 2005).
The study of business innovation within the
firm has centred, above all, on the concept of

intellectual capital and the learning capacity of

organizations and their members (Cohen &
Levinthal 1990; Kogut & Zander 1992; Quinn,
Anderson & Finkelstein 1996). However, these
approaches fail to scrutinize the influence that
such relations may have on individual production.
The concept of social capital allows the value of
the relations held by individuals or organizations to
be associated with their results. The social capital
of an actor arises from behavioural patterns in the
relations that are maintained within the different
types of exchange networks (economic, information, affect) (Adler & Kwon 2002; Bourdieu
1986; Coleman 1988). SNA quantifies the social
capital of an organization, a department or an individual and looks at its effect on innovation (Ahuja
2000; Bell 2005; Tsai & Ghoshal 1998; Rodan &



Cristbal Casanueva and ngeles Gallego

Galunic 2004). However, an understanding of the

way in which individual social capital, which arises
from the relational network of a member of the
organization, affects that persons innovative performance complicates the measurement of social
capital and its dimensions and the assessment of
individual results (Rodan & Galunic 2004).
Our objective is to provide evidence on the way
in which the different facets of individual relations
and their social capital affect innovativeness and
innovative performance. Social capital is analysed as
a set of dimensions extracted from an individuals
position in the network, the quality of that individuals links with other colleagues and the individuals
capacity to access valuable resources through those
contacts. However, it is difficult to attribute innovative results (patents, new products, improved
processes) in an unequivocal way in the majority
of contexts in which innovation is usually studied
(laboratories, research centres, R&D departments
in large firms), as in these contexts innovations
are the product of team work and do not generate a
result that is attributable to any one individual. As a
consequence, this work centres on an institution
whose innovative function is essential throughout
the world: the university. Its particularity is that the
production of new knowledge is easily identified
with the individual or group of individuals that
generate it. McFadyen and Cannella (2005) consider that published research results represent documented new knowledge.
A social network analysis was therefore performed on the way in which the innovative performance of university researchers is affected by
their position in the internal network of their
departments, the quality of their contacts in that
network, and the access to resources provided by
those contacts.
The next section presents a review of the literature on social capital and innovation, after
which the proposed model is presented, the
methodology is explained, and the results from
applying the data to a university network are set
out. A critical discussion follows, in the final section, on the results and their implications.



Social capital is currently used to explain different

management phenomena. It is, moreover, a broad
concept that has been defined in many varied
ways (Adler & Kwon 2002). Problems, ideas and
perspectives are found intertwined in these definitions, although a common standpoint may be
found in the majority of them, in cases where
social capital is defined from a resource-based
view and grounded in social network theory
(Gulati et al. 2000; Rodan & Galunic 2004).
Thus, social capital may be defined in terms of
the resources derived from the relational network
that an individual or organization maintains over
the course of time.
Various works have studied the way in which
social capital influences the performance of the
firm (Koka & Prescott 1992; Zaheer & Bell
2005) and of the people within it (Burt 1992;
Podolny & Baron 1997). Among other improvements, they clearly highlight improvements in a
firms innovative performance that are attributable to the relations between the firm and the
individuals within it.
Arguments vary over how social capital influences the innovativeness of the firm; its capability
to generate new knowledge and transfer it to new
products and processes. Most of those arguments
are linked to flows of communication, information and knowledge that take place across personal and organizational networks. Burt (1992,
1997) considers three basic informational benefits of networks: access to valuable information
and its possible uses; the speed at which information may be accessed by those using channels
through which such knowledge and information
flows; and, the existence of additional references
or information on the opportunities that the network offers to exchange information with other
actors. However, the innovativeness of a firm may
also be improved through its relations, simply by
its position in the network. Thus, in wide networks of limited density, where structural holes are
found (Burt 1992), firms can take advantage of
situations in which they are turned into brokers


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Social capital and individual innovativeness in university research networks

for unconnected parts of the network. They can

thereby obtain benefits because of their possible
participation in projects linked to different parts
of the network which they put into contact with
each other. Other ways of improving innovativeness are linked to personal and social support networks in which individuals participate (Rodan &
Galunic 2004), as they imply an important source
of assistance and advice. Finally, the existence of
certain shared values, of rules of the game and
norms in the network can also improve innovativeness, insofar as a shared vision allows freer,
more fluid communication and the possibility of
sharing other non-informational resources to forestall fears of opportunistic behaviour (Coleman
1988; Dyer & Nobeoka 2000; Nahapiet &
Ghoshal 1998; Tsai & Ghoshal 1998).
The theory of social networks considers two
basic types of networks individual (or personal)
networks and organizational networks according
to whether their relations are between individuals
or between organizations. Both types of networks
are present and are interwoven in firms, as many
contacts between organizations are based on relations between individuals (e.g. interlocking directorates or relations between executives from
different firms). In addition, the individual networks can be either internal or external to the firm.
Research into the influence of social capital on
innovation has led to empirical evidence at three
analytical levels: the performance of firms (Ahuja
2000; Powell, Koput & Smith-Doerr 1996; Shan,
Walter & Kogut 1994; Zaheer & Bell 2005); the
performance of departments and research units
(Tsai & Ghoshal 1998; Tsai 2000, 2001); and the
performance of individuals (Burt 1992, 1997;
Podolny & Baron 1997; Rodan & Galunic 2004;
McFadyen & Cannella 2005). These individual
level investigations begin with the ego network of
certain departmental members, although instead
of studying social capital on the basis of the internal relations that occur within the unit, they consider the complete departmental network.
Social capital has been defined as a multidimensional concept (Batjargal 2003; Inkpen &

Tsang 2005; Koka & Prescott 2002; Nahapiet &

Ghoshal 1998). Researchers (Nahapiet &
Ghoshal 1998; Tsai & Ghoshal 1998; Inkpen &
Tsang 2005) point to the existence of three
dimensions of social capital, although they recognise that rather than being independent, they all
have a mutual affect on each other. The structural
dimension refers to the network ties possessed by
an actor and to the particular arrangement of
each network (in the sense of its structure and of
the patterns in the relations). The relational
dimension is fundamentally linked to the characteristics of the actors own relations. The concepts
of trust and trustworthiness are linked to the
quality of those relations (Tsai & Ghoshal 1998).
Finally, the cognitive dimension refers to codes,
languages, narratives, visions and rules that are
shared within the network. Batjargal (2003) adds
resource embeddedness as a new dimension of
social capital. Following on from earlier studies
and the ideas of Lin (1999), Batjargal proposes
that a network needs contacts that hold useful
resources for the actor in order to improve performance. In this work, it is considered that
social capital consists of three dimensions (the
structural, relational and resource dimensions), in
order to study their influence on individual innovativeness and to understand how the effects of
the three dimensions of social capital are combined when considering those results.

Previous studies have shown the different ways in
which network structures affect innovation. In the
majority of cases, the structure of a particular relation (personal, social, institutional or businessbased cooperation) is considered the channel for
the satisfactory transmission of new information
and new knowledge on which innovation is based.
The structure of one or various relations is considered a proxy for the patterns of information flows,
or the transmission of information between the
network actors (Rodan & Galunic 2004). This
logic is grounded in the two principal approaches
to the way in which network position affects an



Cristbal Casanueva and ngeles Gallego

actors performance and innovativeness. On the one

hand, Burt (1992) argues that there are various
ways by which actors that occupy favourable intermediary positions in open, extensive and poorly
connected networks (in which structural holes
exist) can achieve advantages. Firstly, an actor can
benefit from his position as an intermediary or broker by establishing links between colleagues that
have no direct ties between each other. Secondly,
the probability of their being invited to participate
in collaborative innovatory projects increases
(Shipilov 2006). Thirdly, they obtain advantages
by gaining heterogeneous information that is nonredundant and comes from various sources at some
distance from each other. In contrast, Coleman
(1988) points to the benefits of being situated in a
dense and cohesive network. Actors located in central positions in dense networks obtain greater
access to and control over information and other
innovation-related resources. Information may be
obtained from different sources, which allows the
data that is collected to be validated. In addition,
according to Coleman, these networks generate
behavioural norms and sanctions for opportunistic
attitudes, which is why the information is shared
with greater trust. Commonly-held regulations and
values also improve mutual comprehension and
reduce misunderstandings between the actors in the
network (Ahuja 2000; Dyer & Nobeoka 2000).
Various empirical studies have underlined the role
of a privileged position of the actors in the network
structure as a factor that positively influences their
innovativeness or their capacity to access new
knowledge (Ahuja 2000; Bell 2005; Burt 1992,
1997; Powell et al. 1996; Zaheer & Bell 2005). In
any case, favourable positions for actors, whether
because of the advantages put forward by Burt
(1992) or by Coleman (1988), appear to impact
positively on their innovativeness (Inkpen & Tsang
2005; Nahapiet & Ghoshal 1998). Therefore,
Hypothesis 1. The position of an individual in
the network structure will influence the innovativeness of that same individual in a positive

The relational dimension lays emphasis on

the content of the actors ties and centres on
their direct contacts and on their attributes.
The influence of the relational dimension on
the innovativeness of actors has also been considered in terms of the improvement that takes
place in the exchange of resources (fundamentally informational) due to the existence of
trusting relations (Inkpen & Tsang 2005;
Moran 2005; Tsai & Ghoshal 1998). Trust
improves cooperation that serves to support
resource exchange processes and limits the risk
of opportunistic behaviour. On the contrary,
mistrust discourages innovation as a consequence of which firms will tend to dedicate
more time to controlling possible opportunistic
behaviour and will therefore have less time
available to dedicate to innovation (Laundry,
Amara & Lamari 2002). In addition to direct
relations of trust between firms, trust generates
a certain reputation with the result that certain
firms become trustworthy, which for Tsai and
Ghoshal (1998) has similar effects on innovation. Other attributes of the actors direct relations, such as the repetition of contacts, has also
been pointed to as a source of social capital
(Koka & Prescott 2002). Previous studies have
observed that when two actors interact over
time and on repeated occasions their ties of
trust will become stronger and the actors will be
more likely to perceive each other as trustworthy (Gabarro 1978; Granovetter 1985; Gulati
1995a, 1995b; Uzzi 1996). For all these reasons, the probability of business innovation in
environments characterised by high levels of
trust must be higher (Laundry et al. 2002) than
in other kinds of environments. The content of
the relation, measured by the heterogeneity of
the information and the knowledge that they
supply, has also been studied (Koka & Prescott
2002; Rodan & Galunic 2004). Such that,
Hypothesis 2. The quality of an individuals
relations will influence the innovativeness of
that same individual.


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Social capital and individual innovativeness in university research networks

The resource dimension refers to the capacity

to access valuable resources held by other network members and to mobilise those held by an
actor (Lin 1999). The possibility of mobilising
network resources or those of the different firms
that form the network has been considered by
various authors (Gulati et al. 2000; Powell et al.
1996; Wiewel & Hunter 1985) who analysed
convergence between inter-organizational relations and the resource-based perspective.
Although there is broad empirical evidence to
support this argument, the resource dimension
and its direct influence on innovation has not
been explicitly stated (Batjargal 2003). In any
case, without considering it as an additional
dimension, Tsai and Ghoshal (1998) confirm
that the exchange of resources and their combination by actors in their network exercises a positive
influence over their innovativeness. Thus,
Hypothesis 3. The resources of network members with whom an individual interacts will
influence the innovativeness of that same individual.
Although the previous arguments point out
that each one of the three dimensions of social
capital under consideration has a direct influence
on innovativeness, other arguments also exist to
suggest that the resource dimension plays a fundamental role in the matter. Lin (1999) inquires into
the true value of the actors positions in the network; which is to say, into the real influence of the
structural dimension on social capital. The author
argues that social capital is linked to different types
of collective resources existing on the network.
However, different endowments of resources
between the different networks and a different
localization for each actor are merely the
antecedents to certain actors gaining access to
valuable resources and being able to mobilise
them, thanks to their having appropriate contacts.
It is of no use to an actor to be well connected to
colleagues who do not possess valuable resources
or who do not wish to share them. Lin (1999) lays
out the debate over whether network localisation is

a measure of social capital or a precursor of social

capital. In the end, he favours the last option in his
model and points out that network locations
should be treated as exogenous variables rather
than endogenous variables of social capital itself
(Lin 1999). Social capital is linked fundamentally
to the resource dimension (Batjargal 2003) and
the structural dimension contributes to access to
those resources and to their mobilisation. Tsai and
Ghoshal (1998) propose a similar logic, as in order
to analyse the influence of social capital on product innovation they centre on the capability of
intra-organizational units to combine and
exchange resources, which is the capability that
really influences innovation. In contrast, Rodan
and Galunic (2005) point out that network structure has been used as a proxy to measure the content of relations, avoiding any direct measurement
of the characteristics of those relations. These
authors propose a separation between the structure
of the network and the contents of the relation
and they study its links in the concrete case of the
heterogeneity of knowledge obtained from different colleagues. Tsai and Ghoshal (1998) also find
evidence on the connection between the relational
dimension and the possibility of exchanging and
combining resources as a cause of product innovation. In keeping with the aforementioned arguments, two new hypotheses may be formulated.
Hypothesis 4. The position of an individual in
the network structure will influence the access
of that same individual to other members with
valuable resources.
Hypothesis 5. The quality of an individuals
relations will influence the capacity of that
same individual to access and to mobilize valuable resources in the network.

Unit of analysis
In order to study the influence of individual
social capital on the creation of new knowledge
in innovative organizations, we have opted to



Cristbal Casanueva and ngeles Gallego

examine a university department. The allocation

of innovative results to specific individuals is
more difficult in other contexts in which, due to
the team-work dynamic, appropriation of the
results by the firm or organization is clearer; as is
the case for research centres and R&D departments. The same does not occur for the creation
of new knowledge in university departments,
because scientists publish the results of their
research in the academic world through mediums
that, as is widely accepted, reflect scientific
advances in a given field, such as articles in scientific magazines, research publications and the
proceedings of scientific conferences (McFadyen
& Cannella 2005).
For SNA to perform an acceptable study, a
network of adequate size is needed, which can
neither be too small for the purposes of an appropriate statistical analysis, nor too big, as the complete network has to be studied, which is to say
the relations of each member of the network with
the others (Wasserman & Faust 1994). A Management Department of an important Spanish
university with over 60,000 students was chosen.
This department has 93 teachers dedicated to
teaching and to research. It imparts courses at
four university centres and is responsible for
teaching over 3,000 graduate and post-graduate
students each year.
Its members are connected in various ways
with teaching and research and ancillary data is
available to document and undertake any necessary checks on them. The relations and the scientific production of the departmental members
have been studied over the period 19912005.

Two types of data were collected, so as to obtain
relevant information to construct the intradepartmental network: attributive data that indicates the demographic and academic traits of the
actors (age, gender, year of doctorate, area of
knowledge, employment category i.e. university
lecturer, professor, etc.) and their level of scientific production; and relational data that is used to

construct the relational matrices between department members. Six types of ties between actors
were analysed. The first refers to scientific collaboration expressed in tangible results, for which
purpose co-authorships were analysed between
actors. A further type of more general scientific
collaboration that generates relations between scientists is participation in research groups that
have to apply for funding on a competitive basis.
The third relation is a joint presence on the same
university course. Students are divided into
groups to study each subject due to their high
numbers at the university and in the department,
each subject having a maximum of 11 groups.
This generates important teaching needs, for
which reason a course is normally taught by various professors, which creates a social relation
between them. The departmental facilities are
located in various buildings and most lecturers
share offices, normally over lengthy periods of
time. The fourth relation was the tie that arises
from having shared an office. The fifth relation is
that which arises between tutors of doctoral theses and doctorands, as it is shared by most of the
thesis supervisors or the tutors for the department
members. Finally, relations of kinship between
the actors have been analysed. Each relation was
placed in squared matrices (adjacency matrices)
which represented the number of ties that each
actor had maintained with others for each of the
six relations.
A general matrix (network) was selected to
analyse the social network derived from these
relations by calculating the sum of the adjacent
matrices of each of the six relations that had previously been dichotomised. Thus, the matrix that
is representative of the network is a square, with
93 93 elements, and values of 06 for each of
its cells. The cells in which the relation of a
researcher, i, is shown with another, j, have the
value xi,j, which indicates the number of former
relations i has maintained with j over the 15 years
under analysis. Most of the data sets were taken
from secondary information available on the university databases.


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Social capital and individual innovativeness in university research networks

Indicators and variables

The proposed model encompasses three variables
that represent the three dimensions of social capital (structure, Qrelation, resource) as well as a
results variable (innovativeness). A series of indicators derived from the six relations between the
departmental members in the study and their scientific production was used to calculate each variable. SNA analysis (Wasserman & Faust 1994) of
the relational data was performed with the Ucinet
VI software package for Windows (Borgatti,
Everett & Freeman 2002).
Structure: The variable that refers to the effects
of the researchers positions in the departmental
network is composed of four indicators. The
measurements of social capital proposed by Freeman (1978) and by Borgatti, Jones and Everett
(1998) were used in their selection: degree centrality, closeness centrality and betweenness centrality and effective size (EffSize), a measurement
of structural holes proposed by Burt (1992). Two
structural indicators were taken from the degree
centrality measurement: Degree, which indicates
the number of direct ties of any one actor, and
NeighSize, which points to the number of other
actors with whom the actor in question has
formed direct relations. Closeness centrality
(Cross) shows the effect of indirect relations on
the network positions and is a reflection of the
relative distance in the network between the
researcher under consideration and others using
direct and indirect paths to establish contact
between them. Betweenness centrality was eliminated during the refinement of the model, but
the social capital effect proposed by Burt was represented by the (EffSize) indicator, which is a
measurement of the advantages held by an actor
occupying a brokerage position in the network,
stemming from the existence of structural holes
within it.
Qrelation: The second variable is composed of
two indicators that describe the quality of two of
the most important relations for departmental
members: scientific collaboration that generates
co-authorships and teaching on the same course,

which implies collaboration in the same organizational unit under the same supervisor. The first
indicator (Qcoaut) was calculated by establishing
a cut-off point in the co-authorship relation, such
that a quality relation will be seen to exist
between researchers i and j, if they have collaborated on a publication in their research work
three times or more over the 15 years of the
study. The second indicator (Qsubj) was calculated in a similar way for the relation of joint participation on a course, but the cut-off point to
define it as a quality relation was that they had
shared teaching for four academic courses or
Resources: The third dimension that is used to
define the social capital of the researchers refers to
their capacity to access resources within the network that are held by the other members of the
department. From among the most important
resources under consideration, two have been
chosen to represent the third variable of the
model. In the first place, it was thought that
those researchers who hold full professorships
would possess a greater stock of resources than
other departmental members. A full professorship
usually opens the door (and in all cases in the
department under study, although at different
points in time) to important posts in university
management (deaconates, departmental directors,
vice-rectorships...) or supervisory positions in
research teams as lead researchers. This means
that university professors manage a stock of
resources of all types including, as is well known,
those related to research. An indicator Rprof was
prepared that recorded, for each actor, the degree
of contact with other members of the network
holding full professorships. In second place, the
international projection of network members was
taken into account as a resource. Over recent
decades, the centre of attention of the social sciences in Spain and in other neighbouring countries has been undergoing important changes. It
has shifted away from a fundamentally national
reference point towards another centred at an
international level, which is leading to the pro-



Cristbal Casanueva and ngeles Gallego

gressive incorporation of different disciplines into

topical debates, and to contact with scientific
communities at an international level. This
process is also occurring in the field of management, but the incorporation of Spanish
researchers at an international level is limited.
Hence, those departmental members with experience of publishing in prestigious, international
journals represent an interesting network
resource, above all because of their first-hand
knowledge of publication strategies, the current
state of different materials for study, external
review procedures, etc. A new indicator has been
constructed (Rinter) for each actor which reflects
ties with other network members with an international profile.
Innovativeness: A similar strategy to that used
by McFadyen and Cannella (2005) was followed
to measure the innovativeness of each network
member. These authors consider that scientific
publications in books, journals and other contributions are documented sources of new knowledge and, as a result, of innovation. Information
was collected from all of the departmental members on publications of articles in journals, books
and conference papers. Different approaches are
suggested in order to construct a yardstick on the
global scientific production of each individual (to

measure that individuals innovativeness). We use

the total number of publications (publication
count) as a measure of production (Fish & Gibbons 1989; Woerdeman & van der Meulen
2006). The indicator TOTAL was prepared that
adds up the contributions of each individual over
the 15 years of the study.

Structural equation models based on PLS (partial
least squares) are suitable for this investigation, as
the theoretical knowledge is still not fixed, its
purpose is of a causal-predictive nature and a
complex model has to be estimated (Barclay, Higgins & Thompson 1995; Chin, Marcolin &
Newsted 1996).
The presentation of the results follows the two
steps that these techniques require to arrive at
reliable conclusions: firstly, the validity and reliability of the scales of measurement has to be validated and, secondly, conclusions have to be
reached on the relations incorporated in the
The first step in confirming the reliability of
the model is to analyse the indicators that constitute its variables or its constructs. The individual
reliability of each indicator depends on its factorial load in each of the variables considered.




Average variance













Composed reliability





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Social capital and individual innovativeness in university research networks

Carmines and Zeller (1979) propose that an indicator is reliable if it has a load of over 0.7, which
is the case for all the indicators used in the measurement models, as may be observed from Table
1 for the model. The next step consists in testing
the reliability of the construct social capital
that is used as a measurement model; by calculating the composed reliability of the construct (c ),
which is a measure of its internal consistency.
Nunnaly (1978) proposes a minimum reliability
that may be accepted when composed reliability
(c ) is 0.7, although he recommends values of
over 0.8 to obtain a stronger level of reliability. In
the structural model, which appears in the second
column of Table 1, all the variables have values of
over 0.9, except in the case of the relational
dimension, which has a value of 0.765, which is
sufficient for exploratory phases of the research,
as occurs in this case. Average variance extracted
(AVE) (Fornell & Larcker 1981) attempts to
measure the convergent validity of the measurement model. It is recommended that the indicators of a construct should explain at least 50% of
their variance, which is the case for the three
dimensions included in the social capital in this
research. Finally, to test the measurement models
goodness of fit, its discriminant validity must be
studied so as to confirm that each variable is really different from the others, for which purpose
two complementary strategies are used. In the
first place, the AVE should be above the shared
variance between the construct and the other
constructs of the model (which is to say, the
square of the correlation between two constructs).
Table 2 shows the correlations between the
dimensions and the square root of the AVE have
been placed in the principal diagonal. It may be
seen that they are in all cases higher than the correlations corresponding to their rows and
columns. In second place, the cross-loadings of
the indicators in each dimension are analysed.
Barclay et al. (1995) suggest that, as the rows are
tested, an indicator should never have a higher
loading in any other construct or dimension
other than that which it is trying to measure and,

when analysing the columns, the loadings of the

indicators of a particular construct should be
higher than those of other indicators that attempt
to measure other constructs. The model meets
both of these conditions, as may be seen from
Table 3.
Having demonstrated the reliability and validity of the measurement model, it is necessary to
evaluate the structural model itself. In line with
Chin (1998), the non-parametric Bootstrap technique with 1000 sub-samples was used and the tStudent statistic calculated the level of meaning of
the path coefficients ().
Figure 1 shows the results. The explained variance is high (R2=0.462), which shows that the
influence of the multidimensional construct social
capital on individual innovativeness is important.
On the one hand, Hypotheses H3, H4 and H5,
which refer to the affect of both the structural and
relational dimensions on the resource dimension
that in turn affects innovativeness, are all confirmed at significant levels. They do not appear to
cast any doubts on the nature of the relations that
they represent. It may be affirmed that the structural dimension and the relational dimension

















** The correlation is significant to a level of 0.01 (bilateral).

** The correlation is significant to a level of 0.05 (bilateral).



Cristbal Casanueva and ngeles Gallego


H1; 1= -0.043
H4; 4= 0.657***


H3; 3= 0.568***


H5; 5= 0.380***


H2; 2= 0.222**

*** p>0.001; ** p>0.01



affect the resource dimension and that the latter

is positively associated with the innovativeness of
the individuals studied in the department. The
contrary occurs to Hypothesis H1. Hypothesis
H1 presents very low, negative values for that
are not significant. Thus, no empirical evidences
appear to suggest that the structural dimension
directly affects individual innovativeness in the
departmental network. Finally, the results of
Hypothesis H2, which examines the influence of
the relational dimension on individual innovativeness, confirm the existence of such an influence at a lower level of significance.

The research results have shown that social capital arising from the internal relations of an intraorganizational network (in this case, a university
department) is associated with both the capacity
of individuals in the network to generate new
knowledge and their innovativeness. Based on an
understanding of social capital as a multidimensional construct, evidences were found that the
structural dimension, the relational dimension
and the resource dimension directly or indirectly
affect individual innovativeness. But the most
interesting contribution of this study is that it

highlights the role played by the resource dimension, which had not been explicitly mentioned
until a few years ago (Batjargal 2003) in the
dynamic of how an individuals own relations
affect their innovativeness. The capacity of an
individual to access and to mobilise valuable
resources not only directly affects the individuals
innovativeness, but it serves as a catalyser to
obtain benefits from a favourable position in the
intra-organizational network (in the structure of
their relations) and to establish quality relations
with other members of the network. In particular, the structural dimension, according to the
results, does not have a direct influence on individual innovativeness. An actor needs to be connected or to have indirect access to other actors
with resources in order to improve its performance. Previous studies have demonstrated that
contradictory effects exist in some contexts.
Gargiulo and Benassi (2000) pointed out that
dense networks fail to respond well to changes.
Ahuja (2000) stressed, in an analytical context,
that structural holes have a negative influence on
innovation. Bell (2005) analyzed executive relations and confirmed that greater centrality
improves innovation, but was unable to demonstrate as much for institutional relations.


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Social capital and individual innovativeness in university research networks

However, we tend to think that, in reality, the

majority of results have demonstrated the true
nature of social capital and its capacity to
mobilise resources embedded in personal and
organizational relations (Lin 1999; Florin,
Lubatkin & Schulze 2003). These results, which
confirmed a direct relation between structural
position and innovation, are seen to be visibly
affected when the network structure is considered
as a proxy for the exchange of information and
resources (Rodan & Galunic 2004). Access to
resources not only depends on being well positioned on the exchange paths, but on the specific
access that actors have to other members of the
network with valuable resources. In short, a central position in a network is of little use if that
position gives access to many actors that are nevertheless poorly endowed with valuable resources.
Perhaps a more peripheral position in the structure that connects one actor with sufficient
resources is enough for the individual or the
organization to be able to mobilise them.
The principal implication of our results stress
that it would be of interest to pay more attention
to the quality of the relations, rather than looking
at relations or social position; above all, to detect
where valuable resources are located and to construct a personal network that provides access to
them, and that gives the actor the possibility of
mobilising and of using them to improve performance. Thus, satisfactory management of the
networks is not linked to achieving a favourable
position, but returning to a resource-based view,
one must rather be able to identify the valuable
resources for the (individual or organizational)
actor, and to find ways of accessing and mobilizing them, possibly generating stable and trusting
relations with those actors that possess them and
are in a position to share them.
Finally, the limitations of this study should be
pointed out. Firstly, only one case study has been
analysed: a departmental network, which is why
the generalisation of the results is limited to a
context and a network with similar conditions.
Secondly, a longitudinal vision has not been con-

sidered, which is clearly a future line of research

that will allow the findings to be explained with
greater clarity, above all if we consider that a
degree of accumulation of social capital will be
necessary for it to have any effect on individual

This research was supported with the SEJ200614369 grant of the Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnologa (Ministry of Science and Tecnology) of

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Received 23 March 2009

Accepted 29 March 2010

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