How Social Networks Create Competitive Advantage (CBAC Annual Dinner Meeting)

Chicago Booth Alumni Club of Chicago

October 4, 2011: 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM

We live in a networked world in the sense that we are all connected to more people, but how does that affect individual achievement? We're encouraged to "network" with people, but exactly how much advantage is there to connecting with the well-connected? Data on the performance and networks of managers in a variety of businesses, from manufacturing to financial services, returns a consistent answer, and it's not necessarily what you might expect.


Gleacher Center
Room 621
450 North Cityfront Plaza Drive
Chicago, Illinois

Event Details

Hear Professor Ron Burt describe the argument and evidence on (a) how the social network around a person on average contributes substantially to the person's achievement, (b) why advantage should spill over between connected people, and (c) the surprises the data actually reveal. After describing the key issues, Professor Burt will present the key to the puzzle, and describe his insights on how to achieve the real advantage of our networks and connections. This one-night-only presentation provides a unique opportunity to leverage some of the latest Booth research in ways that have a meaningful impact on our organizations and professional relationships.

Each year, the Chicago Booth Alumni Club invites a distinguished professor or executive as keynote speaker for our flagship Annual Meeting. A premier occasion, the evening provides an opportunity for all alums (and guests) to enjoy the best aspects of the Booth experience, tapping into some of the best learning coming out of the Booth community, getting an update and chance to meet Dean Sunil Kumar, and connecting with old and new friends during a pre-meeting reception and relaxing dinner.


$40 Members, $60 Non-Members

Includes International Buffet Dinner and Cash Bar


Register Online

Deadline: 9/30/2011


5:30 PM-6:00 PM: Cocktail reception

6:00 PM-7:00 PM: Dinner

6:35 PM-6:50 PM: Remarks by Dean Sunil Kumar

7:00 PM-8:00 PM: Keynote Address by Professor Ron Burt

Speaker Profiles

Robert S. Burt (Speaker)
Hobart W. Williams Professor of Sociology and Strategy, Chicago Booth

Ronald Burt studies the ways that social networks create competitive advantage in careers, organizations, and markets. He 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.

Sunil Kumar (Speaker)
Dean and George Pratt Shultz Professor of Operations Management, Chicago Booth

Sunil Kumar's research includes performance evaluation and control of manufacturing systems, service operations, and communications networks. In particular, he studies systems affected by stochastic variability via mathematical models. He also studies application of optimization methods and control theory to managerial problems. Kumar has published dozens of scholarly research articles and has served as the editor of the Stochastic Models area of the journal Operations Research. He co-developed a widely used factory simulator for teaching operations management. The simulator, "Littlefield Technologies," has been used in classes at more than 50 business and engineering schools. He also served as an operations consultant to several companies.

Kumar joined the Chicago Booth faculty on January 1, 2011, after spending 14 years on the faculty of the Stanford University Graduate School of Business where he was the Fred H. Merrill Professor of Operations, Information and Technology. At Stanford, he also served as senior associate dean for academic affairs, overseeing the school's M.B.A. program and leading faculty groups in marketing and organizational behavior. While at Stanford, Kumar was awarded the Finmeccanica Faculty Scholarship, named a Spence Faculty Scholar and received multiple teaching commendations. He also was named Professor of the Year at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad.

Born in India, Kumar received a Master of Engineering degree in computer science and automation from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Mangalore University in Surathkal. He earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Dennis N. Aust, '80 
President, Chicago Booth Alumni Club

Other Information

Note regarding registration:  If you're a member make sure to login (click on Member Login at the top right of the registration page) to receive the member discount . Non-Members welcome. If you're not a member, consider joining now (click on Member Signup in the menu at the left of the registration page) to receive the member discount for this event, plus discounts and other exclusive benefits for the next twelve months.