Social capital in inter-organisational relations : economics and business implications

  • Shaun Cheah

Student thesis: By Publication


This study explores and provides an understanding of how business-to-business (B-to-
B) relationships can be better understood by incorporating a social capital (SC)
framework. It argues that SC dimensions (i.e., relational, cognitive, and structural)
underpin alliances that are salient to B-to-B relationships. It also adds to the literature
on B-to-B collaborations and has the potential to provide managerially relevant
(‘actionable’) results in how and in what way B-to-B SC can be harnessed in 21st
century business systems.
Four papers were developed (three published, one under review), with the first paper
conceptualising a model of joint actions firms typically engage and their outcomes,
while tabling its contribution to the building of jointly owned SC across B-to-B firms.
The second paper extends the research by framing sponsorship as a B-to-B two-way
relationship to better understand the appropriateness of potential concepts and related
metrics of sponsorship impacts. The third paper builds on this understanding by
investigating the institutional texture insights for B-to-B firms to harness and develop
for success. Here, a conceptual model is proposed, and a research agenda is presented,
bringing together a wide range of measures that have been applied in multidisciplinary
literature. The fourth paper is an empirical validation of this model leading to the Bto-
B SC loyalty framework, with results of the analysis presented and outlined. The
central claim is that specific investments in SC relationship-building not only enhance
B-to-B loyalty but, over time, fashion the nature and depth of the alliance between
firms. Particularly important is SC’s unique feature in relation to other forms of
capital, in that it is inherently bound to the organisation and development of the
The overarching notion of this study is that it brings together multidisciplinary
theories and a wide range of measures that have been applied in the economics and
SC literature, and answers the call for closer qualitative examination of B-to-B SC
Date of Award2019
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAli Quazi (Supervisor), Cameron Gordon (Supervisor), Trevor MULES (Supervisor), Abu Saleh (Supervisor), Daniel Prior (Supervisor) & Greg Mahony (Supervisor)

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