Exploring a 'Good for Community' Collaboration Through the Lens of Social Capital: Narrative of Boileroom, Guildford

Puranik, Akash Nitin (2016). Exploring a 'Good for Community' Collaboration Through the Lens of Social Capital: Narrative of Boileroom, Guildford. MRes thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000ef55


The lack of descriptions of 'good for community' collaborations of SMEs and my involvement in various such initiatives has shaped and driven this research. This dissertation aims to explore and describe one such unique case in depth. The collaborative engagement of the SME Boileroom, Guildford is chosen for this purpose. Through the description of this collaboration, this research intends to explore insights regarding the intersection of theories of social capital and collaboration. The research employs interpretive ethnography, which stems from subjective naturalism. The proposed collaboration was accessed as a volunteer. Participant observations data in the form of meeting notes, reflective descriptions, advertisements, various forms, company documents, email correspondence, photos etc. , as well as in-depth semi-structured interviews of three key informants guided this ethnography. Thematic inductive analysis aimed at creating a rich description was utilised to analyse this diverse data. The narrative that is created from this data sheds light on how such a phenomenon comes to be, the roles undertaken by Boileroom, the way the organisation has engaged with the community and the manner in which it has formed links. Some unique characteristics of this collaboration such as an unstructured approach towards the organising process, a broad overarching goal, down-up distribution of power, high levels of underpinned trust, and an organically developing, informal, and social nature of the initiative were observed. As the current theoretical insights were considered somewhat limited to explicate these characteristics, this research analysed them at length. From this analysis, I propose that the elements of the social capital theory, when linked with the theory of collaborative process, begin to provide us with a suitable foundation for discussing such 'good for community' collaborations. A perspective offered is that many of the unique characteristics observed were the result of a rich, endogenous stock of social capital. A causal conceptualisation of this social capital, which we can observe through a number of network configurations and behavioural features, has been presented. This research discovered various roles that social capital dimensions facilitated within this collaboration. The structural dimension was observed to have allocated power to participants. The relational dimension allowed for the substitution of social coordination for the formal structure and representation. It also facilitated a level of acceptance in collaboration themes such as the common goals, leadership, and trust. The discovery and description of such roles is the main contribution of this pilot study that has expanded the avenues for PhD research. Exploring further cases of 'good for community' collaborations, to assess the essence of this representation that is offered by the intersection of social capital and collaboration, as well as a detailed investigation of the roles of social capital in such setting has been recommended. The insights from this dissertation can be treated as a first step towards developing a theory of social capital within the collaboration literature.

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