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Ronald S. Burt

Hobart W. Williams Professor of Sociology and Strategy

Ronald Burt studies the ways that social networks create competitive advantage in careers, organizations, and markets (see research tab for downloads).

Burt joined the Chicago Booth faculty in 1993. He spent the last several years teaching in our Executive M.B.A. program and in Chicago programs for senior executives, but this year he will teach a section of his network class in the weekend program and a section of his clinical, applied network analysis class in the full-time program. When commenting on the difference in environments at various institutions, he described Chicago as a place where “the risk of new ideas is higher than anywhere else because you are continually exposed to confrontation and contradiction between ideas. Most other places protect you from that.”

Originally a pre-med major, Burt became curious as to why he couldn’t account for people’s behavior. He went into physiological psychology, then social psychology, finally finishing his doctorate under mathematical sociologist James Coleman here at Chicago. He earned a bachelor’s degree in social and behavioral science from Johns Hopkins University in 1971 and a PhD in sociology from the University of Chicago in 1977. He sought a better understanding of European business by spending two years as the Shell Professor of Human Resources at INSEAD, and came to better understand practical applications of his research by spending two years as the Vice President of Strategic Learning at Raytheon Company.


  • Economic sociology;
  • social networks;
  • social capital;
  • structural analysis;
  • strategic leadership

Selected Publications & Presentations

“Network-related personality and the agency question: multirole evidence from a virtual world,” American Journal of Sociology (2012).

Neighbor Networks: Competitive Advantage Local and Personal, (Oxford University Press, 2010).

“Commérages et réputation,” in Management et Réseaux Sociaux (Hermes-Lavoisier, 2008).

With D. Ronchi, “Teaching executives to see social capital: results from a field experiment,”Social Science Research (2007).

Brokerage and Closure: An Introduction to Social Capital (Oxford University Press, 2005).

Full List of Research Publications: CLICK HERE

“Economic action is ‘social’ insofar as its subjective meaning takes account of the behavior of others and is thereby oriented in its course.”— Max Weber