In a 24/7 world and a global economy, there is no doubt that relationships impact virtually every economic transaction. In Relationship Economics, Lindon Robison and Bryan Ritchie argue that what needs to be understood is not just whether relationships matter (which, of course, they do), but also, how much, and in what circumstances they should matter. Providing a rigorous and measurable definition of the way that relationships among individuals create a capital, social capital, that can be saved, spent, and used like other forms of capital, Robison and Ritchie use numerous examples and insightful analysis, to explain how social capital shapes our ability to reduce poverty, understand corruption, encourage democracy, facilitate income equality, and respond to globalization. The first part of the book explains how social capital can be manipulated, stored, expended, and invested. The second part explores how levels of social capital within relationships influence economic transactions both positively and negatively, which in turn shape poverty levels, economic efficiency, levels and types of political participation, and institutional structures.
'Social relationships shape who we are, what we value and how we make our way in the world, yet paradoxically the social sciences have often struggled to incorporate this reality into how we understand human behavior and inform policy priorities, focusing instead on individuals or institutions. Robison and Ritchie correct this imbalance by revisiting Adam Smith's notion of sympathy, using it to outline a fascinating new framework for restoring social relations to the center of our deliberations of business, politics and community life.' - Michael Woolcock, World Bank 'Robison and Ritchie have written a tour de force that shows the importance of social capital (what they call relationships economics) in relation to power, culture, globalization, poverty, ethics, and politics. The book stimulates thought and research ideas regarding social capital's role in diverse realms from intimate relations to community development to high finance and national cultural differences and international politics. The frequent boxes with apt real-world examples make the book accessible to undergraduate students and academic researchers alike.' - Jan Flora, Iowa State University 'Accessible and well-written, the book shows how the creation and maintenance of relationships allows achievement of individual and collective goals in a manner that is often efficient, equitable and productive. Mobilizing a large body of scholarly literature, introducing myriad useful concepts, and sharing findings from the authors' own ground-breaking research, the book demonstrates that in satisfying others' socio-emotional needs, we become better able to reach mutually beneficial ends. In so doing, Relationship Economics presents a compelling alternative to the radically individualistic outlooks that have been the target of a growing chorus of social criticism.' - Steven J. Gold, Michigan State University 'With a convincing array of examples...They document how social capital can make major diff