SOCIAL CAPITAL AND SOCIAL NETWORKS IN THEMALAYSIAN CORPORATE ELITE WORLD: A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK (Modal Sosial dan Jaringan Sosial di Dunia Elit Korporat di Malaysia: Satu Kerangka Konseptual)

Chan Kim Ling @ Geraldine


This article offers a conceptual understanding of the nature of social capital and social networks and
their role in corporate elite organisation during capitalist big business growth in Malaysia, be it during
or after the 1990s rapid growth. It appreciates both notions as closely intertwined and hence, act as
conceptual and analytical tools for explaining and understanding, particularly the nature of business
group organisation, in the 1990s or after. To date, although acknowledging the presence of networks,
some analysts hardly focuses, conceptually and empirically, on corporate elite organisation based on
social networks and social capital, particularly their structure and characteristics. Instead, they tend to
explain and analyse effects of the networks and also view them in the form of interpersonal dyadic
ties. This also implies that the nature of economic action, especially the organisation of business
groups, appears to be carried out in a relatively atomised manner independent of social capital or
social networks. Thus, the action is not fully understood. Based on some empirical findings mainly
from a sociological study conducted by the author on interlocking directorships and social networks
of some multi-ethnic Malaysian corporate elite members of the 1990s, a conceptual framework is
developed. This article presents that framework which integrates the concept of social capital with
the concepts of social networks, human capital and interlocking directorships to allow an alternative if
not better understanding of corporate elite and business group organistion in Malaysia, during or after
the 1990s.

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