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Social capital and The Gap, Inc.

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  1. Introduction
  2. Three major types of capital that compete for an organization's time and energy
  3. Important elements for social capital of Gap Inc
  4. Defining social capital
  5. The downside experience Gap
  6. Importance of structural holes
  7. Performance of Gap
  8. Conclusion
  9. Bibliography

Social capital lends itself to interpretation. It is an all-encompassing and important concept for viewing present day businesses, economic situations, organizational behavior, politics and even in how self-interest can play out in areas like natural resources or public health. Social networks are connected inside and outside of themselves. They are found in groups and individuals. In many cases, individuals have connections of their own that can even function autonomously outside of an organization. In studying social capital, the various conceptualizations intertwine. Because of those linkages, the most effective way to examine social capital in an organization like The Gap is to consider multiple perspectives.

The reason that multiple lenses of social capital are most helpful in developing a concept that can be used to analyze The Gap's use of social capital is because the issues of present day commerce come from the issues of contemporary organizations. Social networks are more crucial, and even valuable, in a flatter and wider world, but they also need to be able to prevail in situations of ever-increasing social complexity. Globalization and outsourcing are common themes of American business at this point and The Gap's products are made in almost fifty different countries.

[...] The two most important elements of social capital for The Gap, Inc. (NYSE:GPS)?because of the competitive advantages it obtains in these relationships?are its customers and its suppliers. It is a complex process and social capital illuminates The Gap's success in ways that few other social or business concepts are able to do. Social capital is built by social networking. The better the social network and the more successful the social network, especially in the business environment, the greater the social capital. [...]

[...] By offering a consistent, well-made and useful line of apparel, social capital was built, in the strong, embedded way, with customers. Differentiation was generated in the way that "The Gap has been very successful with Banana Republic, and its decor reflects originality, creativity, and the personality of its location" (Michman & Greco p. 122). Making the Banana Republic stores different that The Gap, not just in the design of its clothes but also in the design of its stores, helped communicate a strong message and build a strong social network with a different base of customers. [...]

[...] Because mutual benefit can be quantified and understood, in dollar amounts for example, even though social capital is more of a qualitative and experiential concept, it comes a long way in defining what can otherwise be seen as an intangible concept: "The term 'social capital' is a way of conceptualizing the intangible resources of community, shared values and trust upon which we draw in daily life" (Field p. i). Regardless of certain difficulties of "proving" the intangible, there is a general sense that networks provide benefits such as trust, information and joint problem-solving. [...]

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