Social Capital in Global Citizenship



  • Matching national and organizational cultures
  • Prizing of social capital on individual, institutional, and societal levels
  • The ‘paradox of unsocial sociabilities’
  • Global citizenship, international careers, and the culture of global nomadism

Matching national and organizational culture

According to Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998), social capital is “the sum of the actual and potential resources embedded within, available through, and derived from relationships” (as cited in [1]). However, it is not enough to design global leadership development programs with the goal to share knowledge according to national cultures in multinational enterprises (MNEs) without carefully making sure that the program also matches the organizational cultures involved (Espedal, Gooderham, & Stensaker, 2013).

Prizing of social capital on individual, institutional, and societal level

How the built social capital is prized depends on context. For example, Singaporean bureaucratic and political elite prizes social and cultural capital from the US, UK, and Western Europe highly as a result of Singapore’s unique history [3]. In academia, it is known that the apt use of researchers’ social capital in the form of international research networks helps significantly in achieving excellence [4]. On the other hand, global mobility experiences that come with a personal value such as new perspectives and knowledge about different cultures and systems can be not valuated as social or cultural capital by the home environment and therefore doesn’t get utilized by the respective institutions and organization [5]. There can be even biases on individual, organizational, and societal level because of strong interpersonal and intergroup processes preventing non-discriminatory perceptions of the intercultural aspects they are confronted with [6].

The ‘paradox of unsocial sociabilities’

The ‘paradox of unsocial sociabilities’ describes the behavior of individuals who aspire to grow their professional global connectivity but remain emotionally relatively uninvolved locally [3]. In the case of expatriates, they can be conflicted between resistance and acceptance of the new culture as part of incorporation its possibilities within themselves [7]. For people from collectivist cultures, the loss of their societal embeddedness might not be felt as compensated [7] by the newly gained increase of social capital from a global perspective. Money can replace social capital in the sense that knowledge transactions can be bought anywhere (e.g., banking, legal, and medical services, etc.), independent of location [8].

Global citizenship, international careers, and the culture of global nomadism

Social capital networks reinforce themselves [9] and education, financial means, and access to information and communication technology determine to what level talent can be optimized [10] . To get access to global social capital, globalized forms of education to foster global citizenship is recommended by the UN [11]. Often international assignments don’t necessarily lead to returns home and can result in onward mobility and international careers within a community, which shares a culture of global nomadism [12] that is of horizontal multi-cultural nature [13]. The alignment of an individual’s lifetime stages and an organization’s strategic direction can be helped through a mentoring, mutual help in storying and career/goal alignment that is managed by a well-integrated Talent and HR Management practice [14].


[1] Scullion, H., & Collings, D. G. (Eds.). (2011). Global talent management. Abington, UK: Routledge.

[2] Espedal, B., Gooderham, P. N., & Stensaker, I. G. (2013). Developing Organizational Social Capital or Prima Donnas in MNEs? The Role of Global Leadership Development Programs. Human Resource Management, 52(4), 607-625. doi:10.1002/hrm.21544

[3] Sidhu, R., Yeoh, B., & Chang, S. (2015). A Situated Analysis of Global Knowledge Networks: Capital Accumulation Strategies of Transnationally Mobile Scientists in Singapore. Higher Education: The International Journal Of Higher Education And Educational Planning, 69(1), 79-101.

[4] Jacob, M., & Meek, V. L. (2013). Scientific Mobility and International Research Networks: Trends and Policy Tools for Promoting Research Excellence and Capacity Building. Studies In Higher Education, 38(3), 331-344.

[5] Complex Professional Learning: Physicians Working for Aid Organisations. (2018). Professions & Professionalism, (1), doi:10.7577/pp.2002

[6] Carr, S. C. (2010). The psychology of global mobility (pp. 259-278). New York: Springer.

[7] Soong, H., Stahl, G., & Shan, H. (2018). Transnational Mobility through Education: A Bourdieusian Insight on Life as Middle Transnationals in Australia and Canada. Globalisation, Societies And Education, 16(2), 241-253.

[8] Minina, A. (2015). Home is Where the Money is: Financial Consumption in Global Mobility. Advances In Consumer Research, 43393-398.

[9] Young, J. (2017). All the World’s a School. Management In Education, 31(1), 21-26.

[10] Yaffe, D., & Educational Testing, S. (2011). “Optimizing Talent: Closing Educational and Social Mobility Gaps Worldwide”–A Salzburg Global Seminar. Policy Notes. Volume 19, Number 2, Spring 2011.

[11] Gardner-McTaggart, A. (2016). International Elite, or Global Citizens? Equity, Distinction and Power: The International Baccalaureate and the Rise of the South. Globalisation, Societies And Education, 14(1), 1-29.

[12] Findlay, A., Prazeres, L., McCollum, D., & Packwood, H. (2017). ‘It was always the plan’: international study as ‘learning to migrate’. Area, 49(2), 192-199.

[13] Colomer, L. (2017). Heritage on the move. Cross-cultural heritage as a response to globalisation, mobilities and multiple migrations. International Journal Of Heritage Studies, 23(10), 913-927. doi:10.1080/13527258.2017.1347890

[14] Kirk, S. (2016). Career capital in global Kaleidoscope Careers: The role of HRM. The International Journal Of Human Resource Management, 27(6), 681-697. doi:10.1080/09585192.2015.1042896


About mathias sager

Thinking and writing for happiness, painting colorfully, and enabling personal growth for all. Fostering co-operative and humanitarian principles, economic and social equality, as well as environmental sustainability. Using broad international experience and progressive, egalitarian and global outlook to promote care for the next generation.
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