Structural social capital and innovation. Is knowledge transfer the missing link?

Raffaele Filieri, Salma Alguezaui

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Purpose – This paper aims to address the gap that, to date, no systematic review has been carried out on the role that structural social capital (SC) plays for knowledge transfer and innovation at the interpersonal, inter-unit and inter-firm levels. Individuals and organisations are becoming increasingly involved in collaboration networks to share knowledge and generate innovation. SC theory has been adopted in several areas of study to explain how individuals, groups and organisations manage relationships to generate innovation.

    Design/methodology/approach – This review covers studies of SC in organisational behaviour, strategy and management over a period of 20 years.

    Findings – The literature review shows that knowledge types and knowledge transfer processes are the missing links in the relationship between structural SC and innovation. Moreover, the paper demonstrates that seemingly opposite configurations of SC are complementary to each other (structural holes vs dense networks; strong vs weak ties) and that contextual factors should be considered when discussing the effects of SC on knowledge transfer and innovation. In addition, it is the balance of different configurations of SC which enables an individual or a company to explore, access, assimilate and combine different knowledge types, which will lead to improved innovation outcomes.

    Originality/value – This review facilitates understanding of the role of SC for knowledge transfer processes and the mediating role of knowledge transfer processes and knowledge types in the relationship between structural SC and innovation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)728-757
    Number of pages30
    JournalJournal of Knowledge Management
    Issue number4
    Early online date8 Jul 2014
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • innovation
    • knowledge transfer processes
    • knowledge types
    • structural social capital


    Dive into the research topics of 'Structural social capital and innovation. Is knowledge transfer the missing link?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this