Victor Nee is the Frank and Rosa Rhodes Professor in the Department of Sociology at Cornell and the Director of the Center for the Study of Economy and Society. Nee’s current research interests in economic sociology examine the role of networks and norms in the emergence of economic institutions and organizations. He is working on an ongoing study of endogenous institutional change focusing on networks and norms of entrepreneurs and firms in the Yangzi delta region of China. Why and how did a modern capitalist economic order emerge in China? Where do economic institutions come from? In Capitalism from Below: Markets and Institutional Change (Harvard University Press 2012), he and Sonja Opper detail the theory and evidence in explaining the emergence of economic institutions of capitalism. The study employs “mixed-methods” integrating a longitudinal quantitative survey of private firms and CEOs (2006, 2009, 2012), face-to-face qualitative interviews with entrepreneurs and field experiments. The 2012 survey of firms collects network data using a name-generator instrument. A series of papers are in progress drawing on the longitudinal data set to examine a broad range of problems in economic sociology. These include examining the reflexive basis of reputation in multiplex networks, identifying the sources of trust in a low-trust society, examining the flow of novel ideas and innovation in multiplex networks, and the sources of cooperation in competitive markets.
Nee has also begun a new research program on the making of knowledge-based regional economies in the United States (project website). This entails research on the emergence and development in New York City of a high tech startup firms, and on the role of research universities like Cornell in sustaining knowledge-based economic activity. A sequel to the Yangzi delta study, the new study examines innovative activity and entrepreneurial action in the context of inclusive political and economic institutions of the United States.
Current Research Interests
Economic sociology; networks and institutions; organizations; mixed methods
Selected Publications & Presentations
- Capitalism from Below: Markets and Institutional Change in China (with Sonja Opper). Harvard University Press, 2012.
- On Capitalism (Co-editor and contributor). Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007.
- The Economic Sociology of Capitalism (Co-editor and contributor). Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005.
- Remaking the American Mainstream: Assimilation and the New Immigration (with Richard Alba). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003.
- The New Institutionalism in Sociology (Co-editor and contributor). New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1998.
- Remaking the Economic Institutions of Socialism: China and Eastern Europe (Co-editor and contributor). Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1989.
- Social Exchange and Political Process in China. New York: Garland Press, 1991. Published in the Harvard’s Best 23 Dissertations in Sociology Series, edited by Aage Sorenson and Liah Greenfield.
Articles and Chapters
- “Political Capital in a Market Economy” (with Sonja Opper). Social Forces 88,5 (2010): 2105-3132.
- “A Theory of Innovation: Institutions, Markets and the Firm” (with Jeong-han Kang and Sonja Opper). Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics 166 (2010): 397-425.
- “Bottom-up Economic Development and the Role of the State.” Sociologica 3 (2010).
- “Endogenous Institutional Change and Dynamic Capitalism” (with Sonja Opper). Sociologia del lavoro 118 (2010): 1110-1135.
- “Bringing Market Transition Theory to the Firm” (with Sonja Opper). In Research in the Sociology of Work 19 (2009): 3-34.
- “Bureaucracy and Financial Markets” (with Sonja Opper). Kyklos 62 (2009): 293-315.
- “On Politicized Capitalism” (with Sonja Opper) in On Capitalism, edited by Victor Nee and Richard Swedberg. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007.
- “Developmental State and Corporate Governance in China” (with Sonja Opper and Sonia Wong). Management and Organization Review 3 (2007): 19-51.
- “The New Institutionalism in Economics and Sociology.” In Handbook of Economic Sociology (2nd ed.), edited by Neil Smelser and Richard Swedberg. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004.
- “Organizational Dynamics of Institutional Change: Politicized Capitalism in China.” Pp. 53-74 In The Economic Sociology of Capitalism, edited by Victor Nee and Richard Swedberg. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005).
- “Market Transition and the Firm: Institutional Change and Income Inequality in Urban China.” (with Yang Cao). In Market and Organizational Review, 2005. (This is an electronic version of an article published in Management and Organization Review. Complete citation information for the final version of the paper is available via the journal’s website.)
- “Post-Communist Inequality: The Problem of Continuity and Discontinuity” (with Yang Cao). Research on Social Stratification and Mobility, 19 (2002): 3-39
- “Networks Beyond the Ethnic Labor Market” (with Jimy Sanders and Scott Sernau). Social Forces. 81 (2002): 281-314
- “Postsocialist Stratification” pp. 846-851 in Social Stratification in Sociological Perspective, David Grusky, ed. (Boulder CO: Westview Press, 2001).
- “Trust in Ethnic Ties: Social Capital and Immigrants” (with Jimy Sanders) Pp. 374-392 in Trust and Society, edited by Karen Cook (Russell Sage Foundation, 2001).
- “Understanding the Diversity of Immigrant Incorporation.” (with Jimy Sanders). Ethnic and Racial Studies, 2001.
- “The Rational Peasant in China: Flexible Adaptation, Risk Diversification and Opportunity” (with Lisa Keister). Rationality and Society (2001).
- “Gender Inequality and Nonfarm Employment in Rural China” (with Rebecca Matthews). Social Science Research 29 (2000): 606-632.
- “Controversies and Evidence in the Market Transition Debate” (with Yang Cao). American Journal of Sociology 105,4 (2000):1175-89.
- “The Role of the State in Making a Market Economy.” Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics 156, 2000. Pp. 64-88.
- “Path Dependent Societal Transformation: Stratification in Mixed Economies.” (with Yang Cao). Theory and Society 28, 1999. Pp. 799-834.
- “Norms and Networks in Economic and Organizational Performance.” American Economic Review 87.4, 1998. Pp. 85-9.
- “Embeddedness and Beyond: Institutions, Exchange and Social Structure.” (with Paul Ingram). Pp. 19-45 in The New Institutionalism in Sociology, edited by M. Brinton and V. Nee (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1998).
- “Immigrant Self-Employment: The Family as Social Capital and the Value of Human Capital” (with Jimy Sanders). American Sociological Review 60 (1996):231-250.
- “Market Transition and Societal Transformation in Reforming State Socialism.” (with Rebecca Matthews). Annual Review of Sociology vol. 22 (1996): 401-36.
- “The Emergence of a Market Society: Changing Mechanisms of Stratification in China.” American Journal of Sociology 100, 1996. Pp. 908-49.
- “Job Transitions in an Immigrant Metropolis: Ethnic Boundaries and Mixed Economy.” (with Jimy Sanders and Scott Sernau). American Sociological Review 59, 1994. Pp. 849-72.
- “Organizational Dynamics of Market Transition: Hybrid Property Forms and Mixed Economy in China.” Administrative Science Quarterly 37, 1992. Pp. 1-27.
- “A Theory of Market Transition: From Redistribution to Markets in State Socialism.” American Sociological Review 54, 1989. Pp. 663-81.
- “Sleeping with the Enemy: A Dynamic Model of Declining Political Commitment in State Socialism.” (with Peng Lian) Theory and Society 23 (1994): 253- 296.
- “Social Inequalities in Reforming State Socialism: Between Redistribution and Markets in China.” American Sociological Review 56 (1991): 267-282.
- “A Theory of Market Transition: From Redistribution to Markets in State Socialism.” American Sociological Review 54 (1989): 663-681.
- “Limits of Ethnic Solidarity in the Enclave Economy” (with Jimy Sanders). American Sociological Review 52 (1987): 745-767.