Victor NeeVictor Nee is the Frank and Rosa Rhodes Professor of Economic Sociology in the Department of Sociology at Cornell, Director of the Economic Sociology Lab and Director of the Center of the Study of Economy and Society. Nee’s current research interests in economic sociology examine the role of networks and norms in the emergence and effects of economic institutions. He is working on an ongoing study of institutional change focusing on networks and norms of entrepreneurs and firms in the Yangzi delta region of China. Why and how did a modern capitalist economic order emerge in China? Where do economic institutions come from? The first publication, Capitalism from Below: Markets and Institutional Change (Harvard University Press 2012), details the theory and evidence explaining the emergence of the economic institutions of dynamic capitalism in China.


  • Ph.D., M.A., Harvard University (1977)
  • A.B. University of California, Santa Cruz (1967)
  • University of California, Los Angeles (1963–65)
Nee C.V.
Victor Nee Academy of Arts and Sciences

Victor Nee was elected to the Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2020

Research Interests & Methods

Nee’s longitudinal research on the rise of dynamic capitalism employs “mixed-methods” integrating a quantitative survey of private firms and CEOs (2006, 2009, 2012, 2016-17), face-to-face qualitative interviews and lab-in-the-field behavioral experiments. A series of papers co-authored with his graduate students and colleagues at Lund University are in progress drawing on the longitudinal data set to examine a broad range of problems in economic sociology.  Articles to date include publications examining networks and economic performance (Nee, Liu and DellaPosta 2017), a theory of endogenous institutional change (DellaPosta, Nee and Opper 2017),  the sources of trust in a low-trust society (Nee, Holm and Opper 2018),  and cooperation in competitive markets (Nee 2018).

Nee also has a research program on the making of knowledge-based regional economies in the United States (project website).  The study examines the rise of 21st century regional technology economies in New York City and Los Angeles. Papers in progress examine the emergence of a division of knowledge, a network analysis of email threads of participants in the NY Tech, inter-generational mobility of tech entrepreneurs, and innovative activity and entrepreneurial action in the context of open access economic institutions.

He has recently started a new research project on the sources of great wealth in the global economy in the 21st century. The study examines the effect of distinct institutional elements in explaining the formation of great wealth.

Cornell Sociology graduate students in consultation with Victor Nee

Economic Sociology Lab

Victor Nee is Director of the Economic Sociology Lab at Cornell which provides training in theory construction linked to empirical research. Recent post-Cornell members of the Economic Sociology Lab include: Mario Molina (Postdoctoral Fellow, NYU Abu Dhabi); Lucas Drouhot (Postdoctoral Fellow, Max Planck Institute, Gottingen, Germany); Daniel DellaPosta (Assistant Professor of Sociology, Penn State); Hilary Holbrow (Assistant Professor of Sociology, Indiana University, Bloomington); Michael Siemon (Data Scientist,, Santa Clara); Shuo Zhang (Assistant Professor, Central University of Finance and Economics, Beijing); Yujun Wang (Associate Professor of Sociology, Renmin University, China); Scott Golder (Senior Manager, Data Scientist, Capital One); Christopher Yenkey (Assistant Professor, Sonoco International Business School, University of South Carolina);  Barbara Oh (Assistant Director, Learning Strategies Center, Cornell); Lisha Liu (Assistant Professor of Organization and Management at Shanghai Jiao Tong University).

Recent Honors and Fellowships

  • Elected Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2020)
  • President of the Eastern Sociological Society (2017–18)
  • Visiting Scholar, Russell Sage Foundation (2015–16)
  • Ph.D. h.c. in Economics, awarded by School of Economics, Lund University, Sweden (2013)
An Interview with Victor Nee
 What are the mechanisms that cause human societies to undergo transformative change? 

⸺ Victor Nee