This paper provides an integrated analysis of the structural, relational, and cognitive dimensions of social capital in cooperatives. The social capital concept is integrated with cooperative lifecycle theory to describe the change of cooperative social capital along the lifecycle. We propose that cooperatives in different stages of the lifecycle are featured with different levels of social capital. Cooperatives usually enjoy a high level of social capital in the early stages of the lifecycle. However, the level of social capital in cooperatives exhibits a declining trend along the development of the organization. The decrease of social capital will lead to an imbalance of the social and economic attributes of cooperatives. The cooperative’s governance structure must change accordingly. We argue that it is important for cooperatives to maintain and develop the social capital strategically over time. Otherwise, the comparative advantage of the cooperative business form may disappear.

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Journal of Evolutionary Economics
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University

Deng, W. (Wendong), Hendrikse, G.W.J, & Liang, Q.X. (2020). Internal social capital and the life cycle of agricultural cooperatives. Journal of Evolutionary Economics. doi:10.1007/s00191-020-00690-8