Building social capital and human capital for internationalization: The role of network ties and knowledge resources
2017 Springer International Publishing
Centre for Work and Organisational Performance / School of Business and Law
This study examines the inter-relationships between network ties as social capital and knowledge resources as human capital, in the internationalization of law firms. Using a qualitative case study methodology, this study is based on primary data collected from Australian law firms and corporate client organizations, and compares and contrasts the views of lawyers and clients on building social and human capital. Our study finds that the relative importance of strong ties diminishes as professional services globalize and weak ties become viewed as more prominent for successful internationalization. The main findings indicate three different sets of inter-relationships between social and human capital: complementary, supplementary and compensatory. We discuss the complementary and supplementary effects of strong and weak ties and three different types of knowledge resources (technical, market and client-specific knowledge). We also argue that knowledge resources of technical and market knowledge can compensate network ties in the internationalization of firms. Examining social and human capital between law firms and clients provides important theoretical and practical insights into understanding the internationalization of professional service firms.