To top page

To top page


e-Books on Industry and Services


Social Capital in Asia: An Exploratory Study

(03-RP-GE-SUV-02-B/ 04-RP-GE-SUV-12-B) Report on the APO Basic Research XII on Social Capital and Its Impact on Productivity [Phase I]

©APO 2006, ISBN: 92-833-7048-1




In 2003, the APO embarked on a Basic Research Project to understand the role of social capital in Asia. Social capital has been found to make a critical difference in the economic and social development of nations. Developed countries in the West are known to be resilient in the midst of crises. Social capital in the West manifests itself in specific institutions but do such institutions exist in Asia, and how do they affect businesses, transactions, and business transformations?

As a basic research project, the work was carried out in phases to investigate issues of fundamental and strategic importance to productivity improvement. In the first phase of this research, the intention was to examine the concept of social capital as it applies in Asia, define its framework, attempt to measure trust and social norms, and study its linkages with productivity and economic growth. 

The event brought together a panel of distinguished experts from India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of China, and Singapore to examine social capital and productivity. Professor Heon Deok Yoon from the Republic of Korea acted as the chief expert leading the team in its investigations of 

  • Dimensions and sources  of social capital in Asia
  • Benefits and costs of social capital
  • Impacts of social capital on productivity

In phase I of the research project, the study team learned that all three dimensions of norms, networks, and trust could be found in the participating countries and that:

  • Social capital has proven impacts on productivity improvement.
  • The impact of social capital on productivity improvement is only “speculative,” although there was a consensus that a high level of social capital would be linked to high productivity.
  • Income, education level, firm size/stage of growth, etc. affect the level of social capital.
  • Different stages of economic and social development result in different levels of social capital.

Adverse effects of social capital were also found. For example, strong group bonds can exclude outsiders and create an undue focus on the group’s needs to the detriment of the broader group. Strong group norms and sanctions may also stifle individual expression and initiative.

This volume is a compilation of the reports from the first phase of this Basic Research Project. The APO greatly appreciates the efforts of Professor Tan Wee-Liang in editing this volume. We hope that the contents will provide useful information on the role of social capital in Asia to readers working in diverse fields. These are preliminary findings as the project is continuing in 2006 in its second phase.

Shigeo Takenaka
Tokyo, April 2006

Download the entire e-book (1.8Mb)
Foreword, Table of Contents
Part I. Research Overview (Heon Deok Yoon)
Part II. Integrated Report (Heon Deok Yoon)
Part II. Special Report (Emily Sims)
Social Capital in Firms, Alliances & Clusters: Why It is Important for Productivity & Competitiveness; And How to Build It
Part IV. National Reports
Republic of China (Ji-Ren Lee)
India (R. C. Monga)
Japan (Yoji Inaba)
Republic of Korea (Heon Deok Yoon)
Singapore (Wee-Liang Tan)
Part V. List of Contributors

backBack to list