Silicon Valley is built on social capital, but it is social capital of a fundamentally different type from the concept of "deep civic engagement" that has come to dominate development theory and to influence policy. Social capital in Silicon Valley is best understood as performance-based trust. It emerges among economic and institutional actors in the pursuit of objectives related specifically to innovation and commercialization. In Silicon Valley, the sequence runs from performance to trust, not from community to trust as the civic engagement theorists would have it. Silicon Valley is an open society—open to ideas, to institutions, and especially to people. Community-based trust implies a closed society. The openness of Silicon Valley to foreigners is one of the region's most valuable assets; it has also been the best social capital investment for the home countries.
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