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Cooperatives and Social Capital: A Narrative Literature Review and Directions for Future Research

Isabel Saz-Gil, Ignacio Bretos and Millan Diaz-Foncea
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Isabel Saz-Gil: Department of Business Organization and Management, Faculty of Social and Human Sciences, University of Zaragoza, C/Atarazanas 4, 44003 Teruel, Spain
Ignacio Bretos: Department of Business Organization and Management, Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zaragoza, 50005 Zaragoza, Spain

Sustainability, 2021, vol. 13, issue 2, 1-18

Abstract: How cooperatives generate and absorb social capital has attracted a great deal of attention due to the fact that they are collective organizations owned and democratically managed by their members, and, accordingly, are argued to be closely linked to the nature and dynamics of social capital. However, the extant literature and knowledge on the relationship between cooperatives and social capital remain unstructured and fragmented. This paper aims to provide a narrative literature review that integrates both sides of the relationship between cooperatives and social capital. On the one hand, one side involves how cooperatives create internal social capital and spread it in their immediate environment, and, on the other hand, it involves how the presence of social capital promotes the creation and development of cooperatives. In addition, our theoretical framework integrates the dark side of social capital, that is, how the lack of trust, reciprocal relationships, transparency, and other social capital components can lead to failure of the cooperative. On the basis of this review, we define a research agenda that synthesizes key trends and promising research avenues for further advancement of theoretical and empirical insights about the relationship between cooperatives and social capital, placing particular emphasis on rural and agricultural cooperatives.

Keywords: collective action; cooperatives; cooperation; reciprocity; rural social entrepreneurship; social capital; sustainability; trust (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O13 Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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