Mark Granovetter is the Joan Butler Ford Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences. Professor Granovetter is currently concentrating on two main projects: One is a book with the preliminary title Society and Economy: The Social Construction of Economic Institutions, to be published by Harvard University Press. This volume represents an attempt to develop a new synthesis on the sociology of the economy. An early version of the scheme that informs the book is in the 1985 American Journal of Sociology paper, "Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness". Other material related to the projected book is contained in the paper for the Friedland/Robertson volume, in the Acta Sociologica paper, and in papers in five volumes edited, respectively, by Nohria and Eccles, Swedberg, Ortiz and Lees, Portes, and Guillen et al.
He is also conducting research on the sociology of industrial organization. One study is called the “Silicon Valley Network Analysis Project” (SiVNAP) Though everyone agrees that the most crucial aspect of Silicon Valley’s dramatic success is its networks, there has been virtually no systematic study of their history, structure and functioning. This study inquires about these networks and their evolution over time, and also investigates the institutional complex that supports local industrial activity, including financial, educational, legal, and political sectors.
Another industrial organization project (which began as a collaboration with the late Patrick McGuire, University of Toledo) concerns the origins and early development of the electricity industry in the United States. Extensive archival and secondary research shows that individuals mobilizing financial, technical and political resources through their social and professional networks pushed the industry in certain directions, with substantial historical contingency and path dependence. Technology and organizational forms were not simply responses to technical or economic exigencies; in fact, technical and organizational forms shunted aside in this period, and then forgotten, were far more plausible technically and economically than usually supposed. Some such forms, such as the decentralized production of power in homes and factories, and the separation of distribution from production, began to re-appear in the late twentieth century as the “wave of the future”; ironically, this study shows these to be, in fact, the wave of the past.
More detailed information on the two industrial organization studies can be found at www.stanford.edu/group/esrg