The impact of social capital on core competence : the case of Japanese Sogoshosha
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During the recent period of severe and volatile world economic conditions, Japanese Sogoshosha general trading houses have had a consistently dominant presence in the trading industry all over the world. Because of a lack of academic research on the Sogoshosha, however, little is known about how this has been achieved. The aim of this research is to explore their dominant presence in the global economy and, specifically, the impact of internal and external partner networks on the Sogoshosha’s social capital and subsequent contributions to core competence, knowledge transfer, and organisational ambidexterity. Following the positivist paradigm, a model of the relationships between these constructs was developed, based on the extant literature and further informed by interviews with relevant employees of the Marubeni Sogoshosha. A questionnaire survey of Sogoshosha employees was then undertaken and the data obtained, used to validate this model for both Sogoshosha and external partners. The findings suggest that increasing knowledge sharing with internal partners and generating social capital from external partners have enabled the Sogoshosha consolidate and extend their core competencies, whilst maintaining current business and creating new projects in a balanced manner, through their ambidextrous operations. In addition to theoretical contributions, the findings of this research lead to a greater understanding of the workings of Sogoshosha and provide practical guidelines for improving organisational performance through the effective use of internal and external networks for the Sogoshosha and other Asian business practitioners.