Opinions

LET’S EMBRACE SOCIAL CAPITAL TO IMPROVE HEALTH AND WELLBEING

By Guest Writer

OPINION: Today, it’s still a big question whether health can be solely determined by income or wealth.

But available information shows that social networks are good social capital and good ingredients in improving our health and wellbeing. Social capital refers to networks and ties, which deliver support, information and trust for the members.

Halpern proposed that social capital exists at three different levels: the micro level (family), the Meso level (neighborhood) and the macro level (nation).

The key feature of social capital is its focus on the relationships among individuals. Unlike human capital (which focuses on individual abilities) and economic capital (which refers to possession), social capital addresses the networks and ties, in which individuals are interwoven.

The three known forms of social capital as defined by Putnam include: bonding, bridging and linking. Bonding refers to strong direct links between individuals in a similar socio-demographic and socio-economic or socio-cultural environment like the kwagalana group of the Kampala bourgeois business class.

Bridging pertains to comparatively weak horizontal connections between different groups, which originate from a similar social class that we see on whatApp platforms. Linking refers to vertical links between privileged and less privileged groups like the rotary clubs and other such social associations around us.

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In today’s society, businesses are under pressure to show that their profits do not come at the expense of the people and the planet. More often than not, shareholders and stakeholders are challenging organizations on their nonfinancial impacts and to show that their purpose benefits society.

To meet this expectation, organizations are trying to measure their nonfinancial impact and measure their intangible value like goodwill, image and intellectual property.

This intangible value has been realized through engagement in several corporate social responsibility activities.

While managing social and human capital requires investment and resources, it can help create long-term business value by revealing key dependencies and risks and can also help facilitate meaningful communication and engagement with a broader range of stakeholders.

Being a member of a network gives the person an advantage of obtaining information, support, access and trust. These, in turn, improve life satisfaction and wellbeing.

Andreas Klocke and Sven Stadtmüller from Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences investigated the impact of social capital on the health of children in their developmental process.

The study revealed that the Health status and behaviors are strongly linked with both wellbeing and quality of life, as documented in the worldwide population studies. However, determining how to improve health in individuals and societies is more uncertain.

In general terms, there is a likelihood that the degree of social capital contributes to the sense of cohesion and connectedness, a concept which has become increasingly studied within the social sciences in the current times.

Thus, if organizations and institutions in Uganda effectively managed their social and human capital very well, they would achieve outcomes that include: engaged stakeholders, enhanced communication, improved risk management, value chain market resilience, improved decision making, increased value creation for resilience and purposeful proposition, sustainable investments and increased shareholder discernment.

The 21st century citizens and organizations together in Uganda need to launch Social & Human Capital Coalitions as part of their redefining of the Value program that involves developing a protocol for recognizing the value of people and communities.

The protocol that provides a consistent process for measuring, valuing and managing social and human capital, as well as a framework for collaborative action toward harmonized approaches.

Hence, organizations of the time find themselves at cross-roads with shareholders and stakeholders increasingly challenging them on their nonfinancial impacts and their purpose benefits to society.

Which is why we see a rise of impact-investing funds and increased investment in sustainable activities over the last couple of years. To meet this expectation, organizations should measure their nonfinancial impact and understand their intangible value.

The author is Patrick Kagaba Kajuma MPA Scholar, Uganda Management Institute

Disclaimer: We as UG Reports Media LTD we welcome any opinion by any one if it’s of a constructive use to the Development of Uganda. All the expressions and opinions in this write-up are not of UG Reports Media LTD but for the author of the article.

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