Lecture Series

CSES Director Victor Nee Wins the George R. Terry Book Award

Victor Nee, the Frank and Rosa Rhodes Professor at Cornell University and Director of the Center for the Study of Economy and Society, has received one of the highest scholarly honors that the Academy of Management can bestow on a scholar: the 2013 George R. Terry Book Award. The Terry Book Award was given to Victor Nee and Sonja Opper for their ground breaking book Capitalism from Below: Markets and Institutional Change in China.

The George R. Terry Book Award is granted annually to the book judged to have made the most outstanding contribution to the advancement of management knowledge and published during the past two years (2012-2013). The Academy of Management is an international association with over 19,000 members. The award was presented at its recent annual meeting in Orlando, Florida.

Capitalism from Below: Markets and Institutional Change in China asks the big question: how does one account for the emergence of a thriving private enterprise economy in a communist state that until 35 years ago vigorously suppressed capitalism? Nee and Opper provide an insightful analysis of how private enterprise bubbled up from below to overcome impediments set up by the Chinese government and drive the engine of China’s economic miracle. Studying over 700 manufacturing firms in the Yangzi region, the book argues that through trial and error, entrepreneurs devised institutional innovations that enabled them to decouple from the established economic order to start up and grow small, private manufacturing firms. Barriers to entry motivated them to build their own networks of suppliers and distributors, and to develop competitive advantage in self-organized industrial clusters. Close-knit groups of like-minded people participated in the emergence of private enterprise by offering financing and establishing reliable business norms. This rapidly growing private enterprise economy diffused throughout the coastal regions of China and, passing through a series of tipping points, eroded the market share of state-owned firms. Only after this fledgling economy emerged as a dynamic engine of economic growth, wealth creation, and manufacturing jobs did the political elite legitimize it as a way to jump-start China’s market society. Today, this private enterprise economy is one of the greatest success stories in the history of capitalism.

Nee is the author or editor of five other books, including On Capitalism by Stanford University Press 2007, The Economic Sociology of Capitalism by Princeton University Press 2005, Remaking the American Mainstream: Assimilation and the New Immigration by Harvard University Press 2003, and The New Institutionalism in Sociology by Harvard University Press 1998.

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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