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Comparative Regional Economy Working Group

The Comparative Regional Economy working group aims to advance understanding of how in the global economy of the 21st century, the comparative advantage of regions turns on the entrepreneurs and start-up firms driving innovative activity and creative destruction.Victor Nee working with a core group of Cornell graduate students and post-doctoral fellows established the working group in the early 2000s. Its first major research proposal emerged from ideas from discussion in the working group’s lab meetings. The working group’s first research proposals were funded by the John Templeton Foundation (Victor Nee PI, $1,995,000) and the Swedish Research Council (Sonja Opper, PI, $310,000).

The working group’s on-going study of the emergence and growth of capitalism in the Yangzi delta region of China has just completed in December 2012 the third-wave of a survey of 700 CEOs and firms, funded by a grant from the Handelsbanken in Sweden (Sonja Opper PI, $325,000). The comparative regional economy’s first publication, Capitalism from Below (2012) has received wide acclaim in sociology, economics and organizations.

“In this view, institutions are not just humanly devised constraints but social structures that provide a framework and conduit for collective action by shaping the interests of actors and specifying and enforcing the principal agent relationship.”

A distinctive feature of the Comparative Regional Economy working group is it is a global network of scholars, with CSES serving as the central node of geographical centers located in New York City, Lund and Beijing. Meetings are conducted through Skype conferences. The working group has started a new comparative research project on knowledge-based regional economies, focusing on New York City, the Skane region in southern Sweden and the Yangzi delta region. The aim is to mount a  research project on the comparative institutional analysis of the network and institutional mechanisms driving the emergence and growth of high tech firms. At Cornell, the working group led by Victor Nee with graduate students is already well launched on a multi-year study of the emergence and development of NYC’s tech economy.

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“Economic sociology is a science concerning itself with the interpretive understanding of social economic action and thereby with a causal explanation of its course and consequences.”— Max Weber