Boundaries of Social Capital in Entrepreneurship


  • The authors wish to thank Professor Gordon L. Pullar and Dixie Masak Dayo of the Department of Alaska Native & Rural Development at the University of Alaska Fairbanks for assistance in Old Harbor and for introductions to its people, including Alutiiq Elders. Also to Dr. George P. Charles, Director of the National Resource Center for American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Elders, University of Alaska, Anchorage, who assisted us with several interviews, and to Dr. Sven Haakanson, Jr. for guidance. A special thank you to Professor Eric Gedajlovic (SFU), Professor Benson Honig (McMaster University), and Professor Charlene Zietsma (York University) for valuable feedback on an earlier version of this paper.

Please send correspondence to: Ivan Light, tel.: 310 825 4229; e-mail:, and to Léo-Paul Dana at


Our research begins with a theoretical critique of the social capital literature, and then focuses on Old Harbor, Alaska. In this remote outpost, mainly populated by Alutiiq people, all entrepreneurs self-identified as Euro-Americans or multi-ethnic, not Alutiiq. Although Alutiiq people have abundant social capital, which they employed for economic purposes, they did not employ their social capital for commercial entrepreneurship. Our findings suggest that social capital promotes entrepreneurship only when supportive cultural capital is in place.