I was out in Colombia and Chile last week presenting on managing people for social capital.
I'd already localised my presentation as I always do, incorporating a couple of local companies and an analysis of the local culture in my presentation. So I'd already been prepared to talk about how national levels of social capital and trust in South America can be quite low. (I see that as an opportunity for companies operating there, as I don't think they necessarily need to be limited by the context of their national cultures but it also means there's a greater opportunity to differentiate themselves from other local companies which believe that they are.
What I hadn't quite picked up was how low this trust can go. So thanks to Alberta Blanco, one of my co-hackers at the MIX, who the day before I did my session in Chile, sent me this graph on levels of trust in OECD countries:
As you can see, Chile has the lowest levels of trust of all these countries. That might present a challenge in developing social capital!
It may therefore also seem strange that Chile has the highest GDP growth within the OECD (5.2% compared to the 1.4% average) but actually these things are linked the other way around. Quick increases in wealth increase income inequality which is a major break on trust. So I understand these two seemingly oppositional findings.
What I don't understand so well is the contrast between low trust / social capital and high social networking use:
"Chile ranks fifth in the world for social networking usage A recent study has suggested that Chile has the fifth highest usage of social networking sites worldwide. Chileans spend up to a third of their time on social networking. The average Chilean internet user spends around 8.7 hours per day on social networking sites. This figure is some 3.3 hours greater than the worldwide average of 5.4 hours per day."
I asked about this at the Chile conference and was told that the social networking use there is fairly superficial i.e. about sharing photos and things rather than communicating about anything of consequence. Fine apart from most social networking use elsewhere is inconsequential too. And that I question whether you would want to even share your photos with someone you don't trust.
There's something else going on. I haven't checked but I suspect it's about something to do with how trust is. That Chileans trust family and closer friends and that their networking is with them. but that they don't trust, or social networking with, people who are further removed.
Any thoughts? - particularly if you attended the session?