Chicago Booth’s Ronald Burt, Christopher Yenkey receive awards

Ronald Burt, the Hobart W. Williams Professor of Sociology and Strategy at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, has received the prestigious 2011 George R. Terry Book Award from the Academy of Management for his book Neighbor Networks: Competitive Advantage Local and Personal.

Christopher Yenkey, an assistant professor at Chicago Booth, won two awards from the Academy of Management and one award from the American Sociological Association, each in recognition of his PhD dissertation, “Ethnic Homogeneity in a Social Network: Recruiting Investors into the Nairobi Stock Exchange.”

The awards were presented last month at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management in San Antonio and the American Sociological Association in Las Vegas.

Burt studies how social networks create competitive advantage in careers, organizations and markets. He was honored for his “outstanding contribution to the advancement of management knowledge,” in his book Neighbor Networks, according to an announcement from the Academy of Management. The book examines the social networks of managers, bankers and others, and finds that people who are well-connected to their colleagues tend to be rewarded.  Burt also shows that individuals who do well at work tend to be affiliated with well-connected colleagues.

Previous winners of the George R. Terry Book Award include Michael Porter from Harvard University, author of Competitive Advantage, and Jeffrey Pfeffer from Stanford, author of Organizations and Organization Theory.

Burt is the author or editor of six other books, including Brokerage and Closure: An Introduction to Social Capital and Structural Holes: The Social Structure of Competition.

During the 2011-12 academic year he is scheduled to teach courses in strategic leadership, network structure and effective management, and other topics. Burt has been a member of the Booth faculty since 1993.

Yenkey is the third Booth faculty member in the past 11 years to win the William H. Newman award from the Academy of Management. The award honors the best research papers of the year that are based on a PhD dissertation. Yenkey’s winning paper is “Building Markets from Ethnically Fractionalized Networks: Recruiting Investors into the Nairobi Stock Exchange.”

The Newman Award recognizes work that is “both practically and theoretically relevant and important,” according to the Academy of Management.

Previous winners of the award include Elizabeth Pontikes, an assistant professor of organizations and strategy at Chicago Booth who won in 2008, and Matthew Bothner, a former member of the Booth faculty, who won in 2001.

Yenkey also received the Louis R. Pondy Best Dissertation Paper Award from the Organization and Management Theory Division of the Academy of Management and the Ronald Burt Outstanding Student Paper Award from the American Sociological Association’s economic sociology division. The Ronald Burt award, named in honor of Chicago Booth Professor Ronald Burt, recognizes one outstanding doctoral candidate paper each year.

Yenkey’s research “applies institutional theory and social network analysis to a set of interdisciplinary research questions focused on deepening investor participation in emerging financial markets in East Africa,” the American Sociological Association said in its announcement. “His dissertation is a quantitative, individual-level study of investor behavior in Kenya’s fast-growing, emerging stock market, the Nairobi Stock Exchange.”

“Emerging markets offer ideal natural laboratories in which to study the rise of investor capitalism and the development of market institutions in real time,” Yenkey said. “With access to individual investor level data made possible with my close relationship with Kenyan market officials, this research has implications for policymakers as well as academic scholarship.”

Yenkey joined the Booth faculty this year after receiving his PhD in sociology from Cornell University. He teaches a course in strategic leadership to Booth MBA students.