The Role of Formal Leaders in Growing and Maintaining Social Capital

By Gregory K. Plagens.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

International interest in social capital has scholars across the globe seeking to understand the concept and its influence. Although not conclusive, research to date shows that democracy works well, crime rates are lower, citizens are healthier, children do better in school, and natural resources are managed better where higher levels of social capital are found. Those accepting of these conclusions and the importance of social capital might then want to know how best to influence levels of social capital in their communities. This paper explores the relationship between formal leadership and social capital, drawing on data from the Chicago Public Schools in the United States. It examines teachers’ assessments of leaders and of themselves as well as principals’ assessments of teachers and of themselves in an effort to identify characteristics, behaviors, or attitudes associated with higher levels of social capital. The general finding is that social capital is higher where leaders are less constrained in their human resource management practices and where teachers are perceived by principals to be supportive of efforts to manage the school environment.

Keywords: Social Capital, Schools, Principals, Teachers, Education, Leadership, Communities

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 3, Issue 12, pp.83-92. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 571.024KB).

Gregory K. Plagens

Assistant Professor, Department of Public Administration and Urban Studies, The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, USA

Professor Plagens’s research interests are in public policy, education policy, public administration, social capital, human resource management, state and local government, and leadership. He is currently teaching courses in quantitative analysis, public policy, and leadership at the University of Akron, where he arrived in 2006 after completing a doctoral degree in political science at the University of South Carolina. Preceding full-time graduate studies, Professor Plagens held cabinet-level public relations and communications positions in South Carolina in three public school districts, the last of which had 4,500 employees and 26,000 students. He has an undergraduate degree from Bowling Green State University in journalism and spent 18 months as a newspaper reporter before entering public service.

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