The nursing workforce constitutes the largest personnel in the healthcare industry (United States Department of Labor, 2015). The rapid changes in roles and responsibilities of nurses, such as gaining more autonomy in the delivery of healthcare services, have put unprecedented administrative and management challenges within the nursing workplace (Auerbach et al., 2014). Many of the most pressing problems of a workforce usually are complex and formidable; these problems, in general, can be resistant to change. Application of the concept of social capital in nursing workforce can offer a pre-emptive strategy to ameliorate, if not prevent, these pressing problems. Clarification of principles of social capital within the context of nursing workplace is the tenet of its successful application in nursing management.
The term “social capital” originated from the domain of sociology and is regarded as an important element for organizational success through the networks of relationships (Shin & Lee, 2017). Several social scientists have made significant contributions to the development of social capital; however, Bourdieu was the first who formally defined this concept in his 1986 publication entitled “The forms of capital”. He defined the concept of social capital as “the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition - or in other words, to membership in a group” (Bourdieu, 1986). About a decade later, Putnam introduced the notion of social capital to the field of empirical studies [9, 10]. Putnam (2000) also asserts that norms and trust are the source of social capital and that people learn to do the right thing through a process of socialization.
Social capital relates to the resources available within communities in networks of mutual support, reciprocity, and trust that contribute to community strength. Social capital involves friendships and connections between people which have advantages for the participants, develop trust and cooperation, and contribute to the vitality of communities (Narayan, 1999).
Numerous characteristics of social capital have been identified in nursing publications (Andersen et al., 2015; Chang et al., 2012; Chang et al., 2019; DiCicco-Bloom et al., 2007; Ernstmann et al., 2009; Firouzbakht, 2018; Hofmeyer, 2003; 2013). However, five of these characteristics, including relational network, trust, shared understanding, reciprocity and social cohesion, are the most frequently stated in the literature; thereby, these attributes have been considered as the essential determining attributes of nurses’ social capital (Walker & Avant, 2013).
Social intelligence refers to the ability to understand and manage one’s own feelings and behaviors as well as those of others and the skillful handling of human relationships. Social intelligence is defined as the “ability of individuals to understand other people’s moods, feelings, desires, motivations, and intentions, and manner of working independently and on a team, and to solve problems and conflicts” (Özdemir N, 2021). It has been proposed that there are five components to social intelligence: understanding of other people’s moods, ability to get along with others, knowledge of community norms, understanding and sensitivity in complex social situations, and competence in managing people (Tioco, 2018), Silvera et al. (2001) suggested that understanding other people’s feelings and thoughts defines the social information process; reading their body language and understanding other’s desires and expectations in relationships define social awareness; and immediately perceiving others’ moods and understanding their thoughts define social skills. To satisfy these three components characterizing social intelligence, the concept of self needs to be fully developed, which means individuals must be able to know and present themselves effectively (Tioco, 2018).
There has not been much research on the relationship between social intelligence and social capital among nurses, but various studies have been conducted on the relationship between these two variables among other groups of people. For example, Mirsafian (2018) examined the relationship between social intelligence and social capital among members of a sports organization in Iran and reported that with the increase in social intelligence, the social capital of individuals also increased. In their research among students of the Kashan University of Iran, Rahimi et al. (2017) found that there was a significant positive relationship between social intelligence and social capital.
The present study investigated the correlation between social intelligence and social capital among CCU and ICU nurses.