The role of social capital for self-employed information professionals in Aotearoa New Zealand
Research problem: The aim of this qualitative study was to explore how self-employed information professionals perceive the role of social capital in the development of their businesses in New Zealand. This required gaining an understanding of their professional relationship-building, networking, help-seeking and related activities. Methodology: A purposive sample of eight self-employed information professionals was interviewed. The interviews were semi-structured and occurred via Skype, phone, and face-to-face meetings. Anderson, Park, and Jack’s (2007) conceptual framework of social capital served as a theoretical lens in the interview design and data analysis. Results: Social capital was described in terms of giving (voluntary activity) and sharing (exchanging information and resources). Ethics, generosity, human touch, and mutuality emerged as important behavioural principles in the development of strong and effective relationships and networks. Apart from market opportunities, personal and professional well-being appeared to be equally important outcomes of social capital. Implications: In focusing on a lesser-known, but potentially growing, occupational group of sole traders, the study contributes to the library and information studies and social capital research in New Zealand. The results are indicative only and more data is needed, but they provide a useful resource for future and present self-employed information professionals.