Social Capital In Education

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Social capital is a critical resource for organizations engaged in complex work that spans knowledge domains (Hargadon & Sutton, 1997; Reagans & McEvily, 2003). Actors who span knowledge domains can provide access to non-local expertise and material resources (Burt, 2012; Reagans & McEvily, 2003). These actors, often called “brokers” in social capital and network literature, also have a strong influence on the flow of information and resources through social networks. Brokers can use their social capital advantages to accrue competitive benefits (Burt, 1992; Burt, Kilduff, & Tasselli, 2013) or to support collective work and innovation (Hargadon, 2002; Hargadon & Sutton, 1997; Reagans & McEvily, 2003; Tortoriello, Reagans, & McEvily, 2012). …show more content…
Professional development organizations span a range of organizational types, from those housed in school districts, to universities, to independent non-profits and commercial for-profits. Unlike schools and districts, PD organizations frequently engage in inter-organizational collaboration and information sharing (Coburn et al., 2016). The provision of PD requires expertise from a number of domains, including teaching and learning, curriculum and instruction, adult engagement and learning, and educational policy. Unsurprisingly, PD organizations seek advice from experts in a range of organizations, which is observed in fields where expertise is diffused across firms {Powell:1996wa, OwenSmith:2004ck}. In such cases, brokers can play a critical role in access necessary information and expertise that is not available locally {Reagans:2003dq}. This gives brokers the potential to shape how PD organizations access and activate the social capital available in an inter-organizational network. Since PD organizations are often tasked with introducing teachers to new policies (Little, 1993), the dynamics of social capital access and activation
Despite their potential influence, brokers have received little attention in educational research, particularly from a network analytic perspective (Daly, Finnigan, Jordan, Moolenaar, & Che, 2014 is an exception). This is particularly true of research on professional development. There is no research on the role of brokers in professional development. Given the importance of the composition and content of policy ideas in the implementation process, and the critical role of brokers in influencing the spread and framing of information, filling in this gap in the literature is

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