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Some personal decisions to start co-operation overcame this state of mind through the building of new neutral structures. As an entrepreneur said: “The best thing about our organisations is in learning what someone else is doing and what may be beneficial to you. We still compete but we understand the value of co-operation”. Policy action can contribute to changing negative dimensions of social capital into positive ones through education and training measures as well as through the creation of neutral communication spaces for entrepreneurs.

The research looked at government programmes promoting collaboration among SMEs with the objective of improving the capacity to innovate through increasing social capital by supporting networking among SMEs. ” Nevertheless, it does not appear to be a necessary condition. The results showed that the most competitive regions are indeed the most pronounced users of social capital. Firms with greater innovation capacity tended to show higher trust in collaborators, to exchange information outside the normal commercial links, to rate external information higher, to develop strategic contacts and to consider co-operation as more beneficial than other SMEs.

The chapter is structured as follows: First, parallel definitions of social capital and clusters are provided; second, the links between the two concepts are analysed (in particular the impact of social capital on cluster building and performance); third, specific issues to postcommunist countries are raised; and lastly, a policy debate is initiated. Subject to contradictory definitions, problems of measurement and efforts to analyse its relation to economic growth, the concept of social capital runs the risk of being rejected because of its conceptual limitations.

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