Bridging and Bonding Social Capital - Definition and Explanation

Bridging and Bonding Social Capital – Definition and Explanation

Bridging and Bonding Social Capital

Bridging and Bonding Social Capital in the Workplace: Fostering Inclusion and Collaboration

In today’s diverse and interconnected workplaces, fostering a sense of belonging and collaboration is essential for organisational success. Two concepts that play a pivotal role in achieving this are bridging and bonding social capital. Understanding these concepts and how they apply in the workplace can significantly enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts.


Bridging social capital refers to connections between individuals or groups from diverse backgrounds. It involves reaching out beyond one’s immediate circle to connect with people who may have different perspectives, experiences, or networks. In the workplace, bridging social capital encourages employees to interact with colleagues across departments, hierarchies, or demographic boundaries.


On the other hand, bonding social capital focuses on strengthening connections within homogeneous groups. It involves nurturing relationships among individuals who share similar characteristics, such as ethnicity, gender, or interests. Bonding social capital is vital for creating a sense of solidarity and support within specific communities or affinity groups within the workplace.

How Bridging and Bonding Social Capital Enhance DEI:

Both bridging and bonding social capital play complementary roles in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. Bridging social capital facilitates the exchange of ideas, perspectives, and resources across diverse groups, fostering innovation and creativity. It helps break down silos and promotes collaboration among employees from different backgrounds.

Bonding social capital, on the other hand, strengthens the sense of belonging and support within specific identity groups. It provides a safe space for employees to share experiences, seek advice, and advocate for common interests. By cultivating bonding social capital, organisations can empower marginalised groups and ensure that their voices are heard and valued.


Imagine a large multinational corporation based in London, UK. The company recognises the importance of DEI and actively promotes initiatives to foster inclusivity among its employees. One of these initiatives is the establishment of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) representing various affinity groups, such as LGBTQ+, women in leadership, and racial minorities.

Within these ERGs, bonding social capital flourishes as members find solidarity and support among peers who share similar identities or experiences. For instance, the LGBTQ+ ERG provides a platform for employees to discuss challenges related to sexual orientation or gender identity and advocate for inclusive policies.

Simultaneously, bridging social capital is promoted through cross-ERG collaboration and partnerships. Members of different ERGs come together for joint events, workshops, or projects, allowing for the exchange of ideas and perspectives across diverse groups. For example, the women in leadership and racial minorities ERGs may collaborate on initiatives to address intersectional challenges faced by women of color in the workplace.


Bridging and bonding social capital are indispensable tools for creating inclusive and collaborative workplaces. By leveraging both types of social capital, organisations can break down barriers, empower underrepresented groups, and harness the full potential of their diverse workforce. Through initiatives that promote bridging and bonding, companies can foster a culture of belonging where every employee feels valued and supported.


Coffé, H., & Geys, B. (2007). Toward an empirical characterization of bridging and bonding social capital. Nonprofit and voluntary sector quarterly, 36(1), 121-139.

Patulny, R. V., & Lind Haase Svendsen, G. (2007). Exploring the social capital grid: bonding, bridging, qualitative, quantitative. International journal of sociology and social policy27(1/2), 32-51.

Claridge, T. (2018). Functions of social capital–bonding, bridging, linking. Social capital research, 20(1), 1-7.

Beugelsduk, S., & Smolders, S. (2003). Bridging and bonding social capital: which type is good for economic growth?. In The cultural diversity of European unity (pp. 147-184). Brill.

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