Open Research Questions

The reciprocity of innovative capabilities between networks with strong ties and networks with weak ties

Background: Networks with high degree of connectedness, trust and cohesion (communities for instance) constitue meaning, belonging, identity and drive individual and (collective) social performance. These networks require reciprocity in trust and transactions between the members through (social) interaction. Networks with low degree of connectedness, trust and cohesion or weak ties, can provide a bridging function between resources and networks (or individuals) to bring closer fragmented communities. Does the narrowing of the isolation while performing this bridging require reciprocity in transaction and trust?

Social Capital and Culture

The biggest challenge in studying culture and development is to find a way to incorporate cultural factors into theoretical and empirical models already in use by economists. Many cultural explanations of economic behavior tend to turn into detailed ethnographic studies, in which causal relationships become so complex that they are not generalizable beyond the particular group being studied. Economists, on the other hand, tend to favor abstract universal models of behavior that fail to take into account many of the complex contextual factors that often prove critical in the real world. It may be the case that these extremes cannot be reconciled, for example, because there is simply no reasonable empirical way to quantify cultural variables, or because causality is too multivariate and complex. On the other hand, the renewed interest in concepts like social capital may lead to the development of new data sources that will permit greater interaction between the ethnographic and model building sides of the social sciences.