Faculty & Research

Ronald S. Burt

Hobart W. Williams Professor of Sociology and Strategy

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5807 South Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637

Ronald Burt studies the ways that social networks create competitive advantage in careers, organizations, and markets (see research tab on personal website for downloads). He joined the Chicago Booth faculty in 1993.

Originally a pre-med major, Burt wanted to better explain 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.

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."


2017 - 2018 Course Schedule

Number Name Quarter
39002 Strategic Leadership 2018 (Winter)
39802 Social Networks and Strategic Leadership 2018 (Summer)

Research Activities

Theory and research methodology describing the social structure of competitive advantage in careers, organizations, and markets.

“Social network and temporal discounting.” Network Science (2017).

With Sonja Opper, “Early network events in the later success of Chinese entrepreneurs.” Management and Organization Review (2017).

With Katarzyna Burzynska, “Chinese entrepreneurs, social networks, and guanxi.” Management and Organization Review (2017).

With Martin Kilduff and Stefano Tasselli, “Social network analysis: foundations and frontiers on advantage.” Annual Review of Psychology (2013). 

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).