Brian Rubineau, Ph.D. Economic Sociology
Sloan School, MIT, 2007
School of Industrial and Labor Relations
146K Ives Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
Dissertation: Gendering Professions: An Analysis of Peer Effects
Summary: Professional identity is an important contributor to the career decisions of professionals including persistence in the profession and specialization choices. When professional identities within a profession differ systematically by sex, these identity-dependent decisions contribute to the sex-segregation of professions or their specialties. How do professional identity formation processes differ between men and women in a profession? The literature on professional identity formation has been under-tested. In decades of research, there has been little conclusive evidence as to which socialization mechanisms contribute to professional identity formation or how these mechanisms may be gendered. This dissertation provides the first conclusive evidence for peer influence and gendered peer influence on professional identity formation in engineering. Using the quasi-experiment of roommate assignment, conduct a causal test of peer influence on the development of a professional identity as an engineer. I find evidence that men are influenced by their male peers, and find no such influence among women. Men's informal professional socialization via peers serves a resource for professional identity formation that is not available to women. This research provides the first conclusive evidence for the role of peers in professional identity formation, and how this peer influence mechanism is gendered.
Rodrigo Canales, Ph.D. Economic Sociology
Dissertation: From Ideals to Institutions: Institutional Entrepreneurship in Mexican Small Business Finance
Summary: Through a combination of in-depth research and unique loan-level data, this dissertation explores the mechanisms of intentional institutional change. It argues that current accounts of institutions and institutional change require but do not provide a systematic understanding of the role of individuals in processes of change. It then uses two in-depth case studies to explore the mechanisms through which individuals can initiate institutional change. One case is the activation of the small business credit market in Mexico. The second is the expansion of microcredit in the country. Through these cases, the dissertation proposes that, contrary to conventional thinking, institutional change is not rare because institutional entrepreneurs are scarce. In fact, they are quite prevalent. Rather, what is scarce is the required combination of an opportunity for change, individuals who can recognize this opportunity, have the capabilities and skills to pursue it, and are situated in the right structural position to drive a change process. It further argues that successful institutional entrepreneurs are usually situated in positions of middle management, which provide the right balance between a motivation to experiment, access to sufficient resources, and discretion to diverge from norms. Additionally, institutional entrepreneurs tend to have mixed backgrounds with diverse professional trajectories, which allow them to detect opportunities, cross borders, and learn the different languages required to brokerage experimental efforts.
Yanbo Wang, Ph.D. Economic Sociology
Dissertation: Riding the Dragon: Entrepreneurship under Market Transition
Summary: This dissertation focuses on three of the most important questions in entrepreneurship study, namely venture financing, corporate strategy and firm performance. The main thrust of the dissertation is to elaborate the mechanisms through which institutional and social factors impact entrepreneurial activities in developing countries.
The first essay, "Evaluation or Attention", examines the causal mechanisms of social ties in venture financing. A staged model of network effects is developed, showing that the prior literature has drawn erroneous conclusions about the role of social ties as they conflate VC's evaluation of entrepreneurs with the necessary preceding act of becoming aware of them.
The second essay, coauthored with Yasheng Huang, examines the institutional driver of local entrepreneur's foreign direct investment (FDI) seeking behavior. We find that the Chinese economic system has a political pecking order in which private enterprises are located at the bottom. FDI-seeking behavior, while diluting local entrepreneurs' ownership controls, helps change their firms' political status to transcend institutional constraints.
The third essay examines the role of bureaucratic legacy upon entrepreneurial performance. I find that Chinese entrepreneurs with work experiences in the public sector have better access to state controlled resources but low efficiency in utilizing these resources. This pattern reflects that entrepreneurs are organizational products: individuals' past work experiences shape both their positions within the social structure and the organizational blueprints that they transfer to new ventures.
John-Paul Ferguson, Ph.D. Economic Sociology
Dissertation: Contest, Valuation and Change in Union Organizing Drives, 1961--1999
Summary: This thesis explores the connections between changes to the formal procedures by which American labor unions enroll new members and the subsequent meanings and purposes that potential members and third parties attribute to unions. In the first essay I use a new, multi-stage model of union organizing to demonstrate that previous research has underestimated the difficulties that unions face in enrolling new members, particularly when charges of employer illegality are involved. In the second essay I theorize that this alteration of the union-formation process, by focusing members' attention on the necessary first step of becoming organized rather than on contract negotiations, has contributed to the erosion of the unions' long-established and once robust system of exclusive jurisdictions. I argue that union voters' shift toward diversified unions is an example of how categories are used in the process of social valuation and how changes in valuation can help organizational sociologists understand why category systems can suddenly change. In the third essay (co-authored with Thomas A. Kochan and Lucio Baccaro) I discuss other historical episodes where changes to the laws governing union organizing have been associated with changes in the definition of a legitimate union member and draw several implications for the prospects that current labor-law reform being debated in Congress will have a large effect on union membership.
Jason Greenberg, Ph.D. Economic Sociology
Dissertation: Three Essays on Social Networks and Entrepreneurship
Summary: Jason Greenberg’s research investigates how the relational and structural characteristics of individuals’ and teams’ social networks impact performance in the entrepreneurial process. A primary focus of Jason’s work is determining what specific resources flow across different types of social ties, to whom, why, and their distinct performance implications. A related interest concerns the identification, development, and implementation of research methods and survey instruments better suited to determine the causal ordering of observed network effects. Jason holds a BA and MA in sociology; and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Chicago. Jason earned a PhD in economic sociology and organization studies at the Sloan School of Management at MIT.
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