COVID-19 emanated from a viral infection in the district of Wuhan Province, China. However, the disease spread quickly to all parts of the world, and its severity and mutation have caused significant concern in the global society. Governments across the globe announced different measures to help curb the spread of the disease, including restrictions on movement and large gatherings, lockdown, and mandatory quarantine. These measures have proved to be detrimental to business operations and survival.
Organizations have been pushed to respond quickly in extraordinary ways and find alternative ways to run their business activities effectively. In adjusting to the current business environment, businesses have to be proactive in delivering goods and services, particularly to those under quarantine and curfew or at risk of infection. According to the resource-based theory, organizations have to engage their tangible and intangible human, physical, and organizational resources for organizations to enhance effectiveness. Proactiveness requires the higher engagement of intangible assets, including entrepreneurship and innovation. Social capital is necessary for enabling innovation to bridge the current market imperfections to understand and proactively satisfy customers’ demands (Huxham & Vangen, 2005). Proactiveness can also be enhanced through cooperation among various business social networks, hence ultimately creating social capital. Therefore, social capital can be a significant element in undertaking precarious responsibilities in crises such as COVID-19 by enabling calm and cooperative action.
Social capital emanates from interactions among various social groups. It is multidimensional and includes trust, norms, and networks that incorporate different aspects of society as well as additional resources that can expand the effectiveness of the community through cooperation. It is linked with greater trust and interactions in the broader society, which can endow people with more concern for others, in so doing triggering social distancing and improved hygienic practices. Social norms involve social support that helps to shape people’s conduct and group efficacy. Trust encompasses people’s faith and self-confidence in administrative bodies. Social networks include societal relations through group associations that often help produce benefits for people and the social clusters.
Higher levels of social capital may well boost the capacity of people or society to get ready for, react to, and pull through crises. For instance, trust among people results in more information sharing pertaining to facts, events, or dangers to society, dire while facing life-threatening events. Also, people who trust each other are more eager to institute planning actions. However, instances of low social ties will be characterized by unpreparedness in seeking assistance and receiving help from others (Al-Omousha et al., 2020). Those who are isolated, the poor, elderly, and racially discriminated people may not be found for days and will most likely die.
Social capital is vital in containing outbreaks resulting from pandemics such as COVID-19. The isolation of those infected with the disease and quarantining their close contacts, and the execution of hygiene measures and infection control are crucial control measures. Social capital and trust are fundamental in executing quality reaction to COVID-19 because more significant levels of social capital and trust are associated with more excellent testing rates. Also, social capital can ease the spread of COVID-19 out of care and greater responsibility for fellow citizens. Moreover, greater citizen trust will enable governments and health officials to establish and execute effective responses to contain the spread of COVID-19. If people do not trust the government, there will be low levels of compliance as they will shun proposed preventive measures. If people do not trust the government, they will defy control measures and very much refuse to embrace behaviors required to cut down the severity of COVID-19. Also, low trust will impede the success of emergency solutions as there will be difficulties in community engagement characterized by public anxiety and division (Kohn, 2020). A low trust level may well form a vicious cycle involving lack of trust, destitution, non-compliance, and suspicion.
Additionally, when the community has greater trust and obedience to civic norms, they depend less on official establishments. Persons in a high social capital society can actively engage in helping for the common good and are highly likely to provide informal care. Social ties and networks enable information sharing, collective action, and decision-making in society and bring together individuals from diverse backgrounds and political inclinations. In responding to pandemics, social capital networks enable people and the public to access numerous resources, including assistance in the form of financial wherewithal and emotional as well as mental support without difficulty (Huxham & Vangen, 2005). Moreover, communities with more outstanding social capital and trust are able to react to epidemics and formal changes favorably and more effectively.
Al-Omousha, K.S., Simón-Moyab, V. and Sendra-Garcíac, J. (2020). The impact of social capital and collaborative knowledge creation on e-business proactiveness and organizational agility in responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Journal of Innovation & Knowledge, 5(4): 279-288.
Huxham, C. and Vangen, S. (2005). Managing to Collaborate: The Theory and Practice of Collaborative Advantage. Routledge.
Kohn, M. (2020). How knowledge management plays a life-saving role in the coronavirus epidemic. Emergency.