Social capital and HRD: provocative insights from critical management studies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • David O'Donnell
  • Claire Gubbins
  • David McGuire
  • Kenneth Mølbjerg Jørgensen
  • Lars Bo Henriksen
  • Thomas N. Garavan

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-435
Number of pages23
JournalAdvances in Developing Human Resources
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2007


The problem and the solution. This article initiates a critical management studies evaluation of social capital in an HRD context by drawing on insights from Foucault and Habermas.This article presents alternative interpretations of three seminal social capital concepts—weak ties, structural holes, and social resources. Pragmatic, albeit critical, insights for HRD theory and practice are illustrated to counterbalance the managerialist appropriation of social capital in pursuit of largely economic ends. It is argued here that social well-being is as relevant to HRD practice as economic well-being. Ethical dimensions are noted and avenues of reflexivity for HRD practitioners are suggested.


  • critical management studies (CMS), Foucault, Habermas, human resource development (HRD), social capital