Workplace Social Capital and Health

  • Tuula Oksanen
  • Etsuji Suzuki
  • Soshi Takao
  • Jussi Vahtera
  • Mika Kivimäki
Chapter

Abstract

Social capital involves social relations and networks, norms of reciprocity, and trust, which facilitate co-ordination and cooperation for mutual benefit. Traditionally, social capital has been studied in neighbourhoods, communities, societies and even nations. More recently, however, researchers have also examined social capital at workplaces. This is justifiable because, by definition, social capital is not restricted to any particular social entity or social networks of any specific size. Furthermore, at work, people are typically exposed to a reasonable amount of social relations and day-to-day interactions. Thus, the workplace may constitute an important social context for social capital.

This chapter introduces the recent extension of social capital research into workplaces. We first discuss the conceptual and empirical backgrounds of workplace social capital research, highlighting the relations with this research in community settings. Then we review the ways in which social capital has been assessed at workplaces, and look at the research on social capital at the workplace as a determinant of employee health. In addition, we provide results from a comparative study between Finland and Japan, to highlight the extent to which this association may be dependent on cultural context. We close this chapter by suggesting directions for further social capital research in workplaces.

Keywords

Obesity Depression Income Posit Triad 

References

  1. Baron-Epel, O., Weinstein, R., Haviv-Mesika, A., Garty-Sandalon, N., & Green, M. S. (2008). Individual-level analysis of social capital and health: A comparison of Arab and Jewish Israelis. Social Science & Medicine, 66(4), 900–910.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Chen, D. R., Lin, Y. Y., & Chung, K. P. (2008). Career stress and female managers’ health in Taiwan’s hospitals: A multilevel model approach. Health Care Management Review, 33(1), 40–50.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Coleman, J. S. (1990). Foundations of social theory. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Cooper, C. L. (2002). The changing psychological contract at work. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 59(6), 355.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Diez Roux, A. V. (2002). A glossary for multilevel analysis. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 56(8), 588–594.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Driller, E., Ommen, O., Kowalski, C., Ernstmann, N., & Pfaff, H. (2011). The relationship between social capital in hospitals and emotional exhaustion in clinicians: A study in four German hospitals. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 57(6), 604–609.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Elovainio, M., Kivimäki, M., & Vahtera, J. (2002). Organizational justice: Evidence of a new psychosocial predictor of health. American Journal of Public Health, 92(1), 105–108.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ernstmann, N., Ommen, O., Driller, E., Kowalski, C., Neumann, M., & Bartholomeyczik, S. (2009). Social capital and risk management in nursing. Journal of Nursing Care Quality, 24(4), 340–347.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gospel, H. (2003). Quality of working life: A review of changes in work organization, conditions of employment and work-life arrangements. Conditions of work and employment programme Series No. 1. ILO.Google Scholar
  10. Halpern, D. (2005). Social capital. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  11. Harpham, T. (2008). The measurement of community social capital through surveys. In I. Kawachi, S. V. Subramanian, & D. Kim (Eds.), Social capital and health. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  12. Helliwell, J. F., & Huang, H. F. (2010). How’s the job? Well-being and social capital in the workplace. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 63(2), 205–227.Google Scholar
  13. Helliwell, J. F., & Huang, H. F. (2011). Well-being and trust in the workplace. Journal of Happiness Studies, 12(5), 747–767.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hofmeyer, A., & Marck, P. B. (2008). Building social capital in healthcare organizations: Thinking ecologically for safer care. Nursing Outlook, 56(4), 145–151.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Iwase, T., Suzuki, E., Fujiwara, T., Takao, S., Doi, H., & Kawachi, I. (2012). Do bonding and bridging social capital have differential effects on self-rated health? A community based study in Japan. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 66(6), 557–562.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jung, J., Ernstmann, N., Nitzsche, A., Driller, E., Kowalski, C., Lehner, B., et al. (2012). Exploring the association between social capital and depressive symptoms: Results of a survey in German information and communication technology companies. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 54(1), 23–30.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jung, J., Nitzsche, A., Ernstmann, N., Driller, E., Wasem, J., Stieler-Lorenz, B., et al. (2011). The relationship between perceived social capital and the health promotion willingness of companies: A systematic telephone survey with chief executive officers in the information and communication technology sector. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 53(3), 318–323.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Karasek, R. A. (1979). Job demands, job decision latitude and mental strain: Implications for job redesign. Administrative Science Quarterly, 24, 285–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kawachi, I. (1999). Social capital and community effects on population and individual health. Annals of the New York Academy Sciences, 896, 120–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kawachi, I., Kennedy, B. P., Lochner, K., & Prothrow-Stith, D. (1997). Social capital, income inequality, and mortality. American Journal of Public Health, 87(9), 1491–1498.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kawachi, I., Kim, D., Coutts, A., & Subramanian, S. V. (2004). Commentary: Reconciling the three accounts of social capital. International Journal of Epidemiology, 33(4), 682–690.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kawachi, I., Subramanian, S. V., & Kim, D. (2008). Social capital and health: A decade of progress and beyond. In I. Kawachi, S. V. Subramanian, & D. Kim (Eds.), Social capital and health (pp. 1–26). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kivimäki, M., Ferrie, J. E., Brunner, E., Head, J., Shipley, M. J., Vahtera, J., et al. (2005). Justice at work and reduced risk of coronary heart disease among employees: The Whitehall II study. Archives of Internal Medicine, 165(19), 2245–2251.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kouvonen, A., Kivimäki, M., Vahtera, J., Oksanen, T., Elovainio, M., Cox, T., et al. (2006). Psychometric evaluation of a short measure of social capital at work. BMC Public Health, 6, 251.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kouvonen, A., Oksanen, T., Vahtera, J., Stafford, M., Wilkinson, R., Schneider, J., et al. (2008). Low workplace social capital as a predictor of depression: The Finnish Public Sector Study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 167(10), 1143–1151.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kouvonen, A., Oksanen, T., Vahtera, J., Väänänen, A., De Vogli, R., Elovainio, M., et al. (2008). Work-place social capital and smoking cessation: The Finnish Public Sector Study. Addiction, 103(11), 1857–1865.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kowalski, C., Driller, E., Ernstmann, N., Alich, S., Karbach, U., Ommen, O., et al. (2010). Associations between emotional exhaustion, social capital, workload, and latitude in decision-making among professionals working with people with disabilities. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 31(2), 470–479.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kowalski, C., Ommen, O., Driller, E., Ernstmann, N., Wirtz, M. A., Kohler, T., et al. (2010). Burnout in nurses: The relationship between social capital in hospitals and emotional exhaustion. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 19(11–12), 1654–1663.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Krieger, N., Rehkopf, D. H., Chen, J. T., Waterman, P. D., Marcelli, E., & Kennedy, M. (2008). The fall and rise of US inequities in premature mortality: 1960–2002. PLoS Medicine, 5(2), e46.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Krishna, A., & Shrader, E. (2000). Cross-cultural measures of social capital: A tool and results from India and Panama. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
  31. Lakon, C. M., Godette, D. C., & Hipp, J. R. (2008). Network-based approaches for measuring social capital. In I. Kawachi, S. V. Subramanian, & D. Kim (Eds.), Social capital and health (pp. 63–81). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lindström, M. (2008). Invited commentary: Social capital, social contexts, and depression. American Journal of Epidemiology, 167(10), 1152–1154.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Liukkonen, V., Virtanen, P., Kivimäki, M., Pentti, J., & Vahtera, J. (2004). Social capital in working life and the health of employees. Social Science & Medicine, 59(12), 2447–2458.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mackenbach, J. P., Stirbu, I., Roskam, A. J., Schaap, M. M., Menvielle, G., Leinsalu, M., et al. (2008). Socioeconomic inequalities in health in 22 European countries. The New England Journal of Medicine, 358(23), 2468–2481.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mitchell, C. U., & LaGory, M. (2002). Social capital and mental distress in an impoverished community. City and Community, 1(2), 195–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Moorman, R. H. (1991). Relationship between organizational justice and organizational citizenship behaviors: Do fairness perceptions influence employee citizenship? Journal of Applied Psychology, 76, 845–855.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Oksanen, T., Kawachi, I., Jokela, M., Kouvonen, A., Suzuki, E., Takao, S., et al. (2012). Workplace social capital and risk of chronic and severe hypertension: A cohort study. Journal of Hypertension, 30(6), 1129–1136.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Oksanen, T., Kawachi, I., Kouvonen, A., Suzuki, E., Takao, S., Sjösten, N., et al. (2011). Workplace social capital and adherence to antihypertensive medication: A cohort study. PLoS One, 6(9), e24732.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Oksanen, T., Kivimäki, M., Kawachi, I., Subramanian, S. V., Takao, S., Suzuki, E., et al. (2011). Workplace social capital and all-cause mortality: A prospective cohort study of 28 043 public-sector employees in Finland. American Journal of Public Health, 101(9), 1742–1748.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Oksanen, T., Kouvonen, A., Kivimäki, M., Pentti, J., Virtanen, M., Linna, A., et al. (2008). Social capital at work as a predictor of employee health: Multilevel evidence from work units in Finland. Social Science & Medicine, 66(3), 637–649.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Oksanen, T., Kouvonen, A., Vahtera, J., Virtanen, M., & Kivimäki, M. (2010). Prospective study of workplace social capital and depression: Are vertical and horizontal components equally important? Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 64(8), 684–689.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ommen, O., Driller, E., Kohler, T., Kowalski, C., Ernstmann, N., Neumann, M., et al. (2009). The relationship between social capital in hospitals and physician job satisfaction. BMC Health Services Research, 9, 81.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Oxenstierna, G., Elofsson, S., Gjerde, M., Hanson, L. M., & Theorell, T. (2012). Workplace bullying, working environment and health. Industrial Health, 50(3), 180–188.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Portes, A. (1998). Social capital: Its origins and application in modern sociology. Annual Review of Sociology, 24, 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Prusak, L., & Cohen, D. (2001). How to invest in social capital. Harvard Business Review, 79, 86–93.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  47. Putnam, R. D. (2001). Social capital, measurement and consequences. Canadian Journal of Policy Research, 2, 41–52.Google Scholar
  48. Putnum, R. D. (1993). Making democracy work: Civic traditions in modern Italy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Sampson, R. J., Raudenbush, S. W., & Earls, F. (1997). Neighbourhoods and violent crime: A multilevel study of collective efficacy. Science, 277(5328), 918–924.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sapp, A. L., Kawachi, I., Sorensen, G., LaMontagne, A. D., & Subramanian, S. V. (2010). Does workplace social capital buffer the effects of job stress? A cross-sectional, multilevel analysis of cigarette smoking among U.S. manufacturing workers. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 52(7), 740–750.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Siegrist, J. (1996). Adverse health effects of high effort: Low reward conditions at work. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 1(1), 27–43.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Siervo, M., Wells, J. C. K., & Stephan, B. C. M. (2012). Workplace environment and risk of hypertension: Is obesity on the causal pathway? Journal of Hypertension, 30(6), 1106–1107.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Stone, W., & Hughes, J. (2002). Social capital: Empirical meaning and measurement validity (Research Paper No. 27). Australian Institute of Family Studies.Google Scholar
  54. Sundquist, K., & Yang, M. (2007). Linking social capital and self-rated health: A multilevel analysis of 11,175 men and women in Sweden. Health and Place, 13(2), 324–334.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Suzuki, E. (2012). Time changes, so do people. Social Science & Medicine, 75(3), 452–456.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Suzuki, E., Fujiwara, T., Takao, S., Subramanian, S. V., Yamamoto, E., & Kawachi, I. (2010). Multi-level, cross-sectional study of workplace social capital and smoking among Japanese employees. BMC Public Health, 10, 489.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Suzuki, E., Kashima, S., Kawachi, I., & Subramanian, S. V. (2012). Social and geographic inequalities in premature adult mortality in Japan: A multilevel observational study from 1970 to 2005. BMJ Open, 2(2), e000425.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Suzuki, E., Takao, S., Subramanian, S. V., Doi, H., & Kawachi, I. (2009). Work-based social networks and health status among Japanese employees. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 63(9), 692–696.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Suzuki, E., Takao, S., Subramanian, S. V., Komatsu, H., Doi, H., & Kawachi, I. (2010). Does low workplace social capital have detrimental effect on workers’ health? Social Science & Medicine, 70(9), 1367–1372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Suzuki, E., Yamamoto, E., Takao, S., Kawachi, I., & Subramanian, S. V. (2012). Clarifying the use of aggregated exposures in multilevel models: Self-included vs. self-excluded measures. PLoS One, 7(12), e51717.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Szreter, S., & Woolcock, M. (2004). Health by association? Social capital, social theory, and the political economy of public health. International Journal of Epidemiology, 33(4), 650–667.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Thomas, B., Dorling, D., & Davey-Smith, G. (2010). Inequalities in premature mortality in Britain: Observational study from 1921 to 2007. BMJ, 341, c3639.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Väänänen, A., Kouvonen, A., Kivimäki, M., Oksanen, T., Elovainio, M., Virtanen, M., et al. (2009). Workplace social capital and co-occurrence of lifestyle risk factors: The Finnish Public Sector Study. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 66(7), 432–437.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Virtanen, M., Kurvinen, T., Terho, K., Oksanen, T., Peltonen, R., Vahtera, J., et al. (2009). Work hours, work stress, and collaboration among ward staff in relation to risk of hospital-associated infection among patients. Medical Care, 47(3), 310–318.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. WHO. (2008). Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health. Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  66. Wilkinson, R., & Marmot, M. (Eds.). (2003). Social determinants of health: The solid facts (2nd ed.). Denmark: World Health Organisation.Google Scholar
  67. Woolcock, M. (2001). The place of social capital in understanding social and economic outcomes. Isuma: Canadian Journal of Policy Research, 2(1), 11–17.Google Scholar
  68. Ziersch, A. (2005). Health implications of access to social capital: Findings from an Australian study. Social Science & Medicine, 61(10), 2119–2131.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tuula Oksanen
    • 1
  • Etsuji Suzuki
    • 2
  • Soshi Takao
    • 2
  • Jussi Vahtera
    • 1
  • Mika Kivimäki
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Finnish Institute of Occupational HealthTurkuFinland
  2. 2.Department of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical SciencesOkayama UniversityOkayama CityJapan
  3. 3.Department of Epidemiology and Public HealthUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  4. 4.Finnish Institute of Occupational HealthHelsinkiFinland

Personalised recommendations