The goal of the proposed research is to investigate the network mechanisms by which social capital contributes to sustainable development at the local (or regional, national, global) level. Two explicit research objectives inform this goal:
- to characterize the properties of networks that generate social capital and of network formation; and
- to analyze the mechanisms by which social capital contributes to sustainable development.
One anticipated research outcome will be to determine at what levels, if any, governments should be intervening to enhance social capital development. Networks are one means to transfer and hold knowledge in both the formal and informal sector, often leading to a reconciliation of previously competing information, interests and agendas. Therefore, by developing a better understanding of the precise mechanisms and properties by which networks contribute to increased social capital, we can then also determine the best use of resources to achieve that end. One outcome of this research is, therefore, to identify the best policy opportunities for enhancing social capital in the context of sustainable development.
Dale (2001) defines sustainable development as a process of reconciliation of three imperatives: (i) the ecological imperative to live within global biophysical carrying capacity and maintain biodiversity; (ii) the social imperative to ensure the development of democratic systems of governance to effectively propagate and sustain the values that people wish to live by; and (iii) the economic imperative to ensure that basic needs are met worldwide. Meeting all three imperatives... (continued)