Social capital and the search for information: Examining the role of social capital in information seeking behavior in Mongolia



The process of finding information to address problems that arise in everyday life situations is complex. Individuals are influenced by many factors when the information need occurs, including their social, psychological, political, economic, physical, and work environments. Research focusing on the social factors affecting information has stressed the importance of interpersonal communication and the quality of social networks in facilitating access to information. The study reported in this article investigates the role of social networks in affecting access to information and, more particularly, how social capital or the resources made available to individuals through their social networks influence their success in finding the information they need. Questionnaires were administered in a face-to-face format to a random sample of 320 residents of the city of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The theoretical framework for the study is Lin's theory of social capital whose main proposition is that the ability of people to achieve desired outcomes is positively associated with social capital. The findings indicate that social capital did have a significant effect on information behavior, particularly on the choice of source, which in turn had a direct influence on successful search outcomes.