The impact of social capital on mass customisation and product innovation capabilities

Min Zhang, Fiona Lettice, Xiande Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)
43 Downloads (Pure)


Social capital with customers has three dimensions: structural, relational and cognitive capital. We propose a research model on the joint effects of the three dimensions of social capital on mass customisation capability (MCC) and product innovation capability (PIC). The hypotheses are empirically tested using structural equation modelling and data collected from 276 manufacturing firms in China. The results show that the three dimensions of social capital contribute to MCC and PIC development through different mechanisms. In particular, cognitive capital has a significant impact on MCC; relational capital significantly influences PIC; and structural capital indirectly associates with both MCC and PIC. We also find that structural capital enhances both relational and cognitive capital. MCC improves PIC and fully mediates cognitive capital’s effect on PIC. The findings extend current understanding about the complex interrelationships among structural, relational and cognitive capital and how to develop MCC and PIC by investing in social capital.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5251-5264
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Production Research
Early online date24 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • social capital
  • mass customisation
  • product innovation

Cite this