Cultivating social capital: an exploratory analysis of business postgraduates in Ghana
Ayentimi, DT and Hinson, RE and Burgess, J, Cultivating social capital: an exploratory analysis of business postgraduates in Ghana, Education + Training, 63, (9) pp. 1225-1241. ISSN 0040-0912 (2021) [Refereed Article]
Purpose – This paper, grounded on social capital and social networking theory, examines how postgraduate students in Ghana cultivate and utilise social resources towards career development.
Design/methodology/approach – Following a qualitative study design, the authors recruited and conducted interviews with postgraduate student-workers undertaking a two-year Master of Science in International Business.
Findings – There was an active engagement and consciously pre-plan mobilisation of social resources and utilisation of social resources among the postgraduates. Despite the diverse processes of social capital development identified, four important key themes emerged underpinning social capital mobilisation and utilisation: (1) the recognition of the importance of social capital acquisition, (2) the strong link between social capital and individual successes in employment and business opportunities, (3) the importance of the utilisation of social resources for emotional support and (4) the use of social capital to reinforce the individual social identity and recognition of an individual’s worth.
Practical implications – The authors offer a theoretical and practical contribution with a frame of understanding by demonstrating that there is more to social capital than economic gain.
Social implications – Unlike the findings from prior research in Africa, the strong institutional and cultural conditions did not constrain the key force of education and employability as drivers in attainment and social positioning. This is an interesting and positive finding from the research, especially in terms of the importance of providing educational opportunities to overcome institutional and cultural barriers to workforce participation and career development.
Originality/value – Social networks contribute to career success, and while the participants used social networks that reinforced ethnic and religious bonds, there is the opportunity to develop networks through other identity processes, especially education. Formal education imparts more than formal skills and qualifications. It provides the opportunity to access networks that transcend personal identity such as ethnicity and to get support for career development.
social capital, social networking, higher education, qualitative methods, Ghana