Can Trust and Social Capital Be Built? How-To Lessons from Londrina
Posted: 1 Sep 2015
Date Written: August 31, 2015
Many argue that social capital and trust (among components of a society and between them and the state and its institutions) are key to well-performing social, political, and economic outcomes. Much of this argument is perched on global analysis that find correlations between these variables and distinguish the trajectories of Nordic and Middle interest countries. Studies of long-term development trajectories often confirms these insights.
This argument encouraged many international organizations, including The World Bank and the OECD, to invest in projects to foster social capital and build trust across the global South. Many of these projects have not yet(?) delivered on their promise. This may suggest that social capital and trust cannot be built.
This paper challenges this negative conclusion. It proposes a new framing for this debate by arguing that the failure of these projects is not necessarily setting the wrong goal for development cooperation. If trust and social capital are the goal, a more productive focus of the debate should be on choosing strategies and tactics that are fit for purpose and context. We provide a concrete example to exemplify the argument. In Londrina, Southern Brazil, a group of business leaders have purposively built trust and social capital. In so doing, they opened opportunities to drive concrete improvement in public policies in a range of sectors.
Keywords: trust, social capital, development, political economy, Brazil
JEL Classification: Z00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation