Advantages of Neighborhood Networks

Neighbor Networks: Competitive Advantage Local and Personal (Oxford University Press, coming September 2009) Ronald Burt, Hobart W. Williams Professor of Sociology and Strategy

Giving a fresh angle to familiar data, Ronald Burt, Hobart W. Williams Professor of Sociology and Strategy, uses his latest research to reevaluate the social network emphasis on building relationships with well-connected people. In Neighbor Networks, Burt offers a more tempered view of the association between success and having well-connected colleagues. His findings show that individuals doing well tend to affiliate with well-connected people, but Burt argues that this advantage is concentrated among people who are themselves well connected and do not have to affiliate with people who have nothing to offer. Drawing on examples of analysts, bankers, and managers as evidence, Burt makes the case that people create a lot of their own network advantage. Burt explained, “Indeed, it might not be who or what you know that creates advantage, but rather, more simply, who you become by dint of how you hang out—the disadvantaged hang out with folks just like themselves, while the advantaged engage folks of diverse opinion and practice.”—K.F.


From Family Love to Race and Murder: What Faculty Are Reading

Haresh Sapra
Professor of Accounting

Faculty read more than research in their areas of expertise. Here’s a look at what Haresh Sapra, professor of accounting, had on his bookshelf recently.

Peace Like a River, Lief Enger (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2001)
“I am usually not very patient with books. I have to feel engrossed right away, and Peace Like a River definitely absorbed me from the very first page. Peace Like a River is an inspired story of family love, religious faith, and the lifelong work and trust required of both. One thing I really appreciated about the book was the characters. Oftentimes when I read a novel, I only relate to one or two characters. In this book, however, many of them are terrific.

“I became very attached to the entire Land family, and I felt that each character added so much to this story, each in his or her own way. It is impossible not to love Reuben, the young boy who narrates the novel, as well as his father, a man who is driven by his faith and love of his family. I also found myself falling for Reuben’s little sister, Swede, who spends much of her time writing poems about a character from the Wild West. I loved this book.

Southland, Nina Revoyr (Akashic Books, 2008)
“Set in Los Angeles from the 1930s to the present, this tale of a Japanese family revolves around race, love, and murder. Four black boys are found murdered in Frank Sakai’s walk-in freezer. His granddaughter, Jackie, has found something in an earlier will leaving money to a man named Curtis Martindale and when she goes to find him, she discovers that he was one of the boys found in the walk-in freezer. Jackie teams up with a man by the name of James Lanier, who was a cousin to Curtis, hoping to find the truth.

“Unlike with Peace Like a River, it took me a while to get used to the book jumping from one time frame to another and also from one person to another person (as in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction). But I am glad I stuck with it; it is very well done.”

Last Updated 5/14/09