David Stark

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David Stark is Arthur Lehman Professor of Sociology at Columbia University where he directs the Center on Organizational Innovation. He is also Professor of Social Science at the University of Warwick. Stark uses a variety of methods to study problems of valuation, innovation, and observation.

In his recent book, The Sense of Dissonance: Accounts of Worth in Economic Life (Princeton University Press, 2009), Stark carried out ethnographic research in three distinct settings to study how organizations and their members search for what is valuable. Dissonance – disagreement about the principles of worth – can lead to discovery.

Stark is currently directing a major research project on Diversity and Performance: Networks of Cognition in Markets and Teams supported by a five-year Advanced Career Award from the European Research Council. The project studies the network properties of cognition as organizations face three challenges of detecting error, allocating attention, and organizing innovation. Stark also directs a series of international workshops on Performances of Value: Competition and Competitions Inside and Outside Markets supported by a grant from The Leverhulme Trust.

With continuous support from the National Sciences Foundation since 2000, Stark and his collaborators are contributing to the field of economic sociology. Papers on historical network analysis with his former student Balazs Vedres include: “Structural Folds” (American Journal of Sociology, 2010); “Social Times of Network Spaces” (AJS, 2006); and “Political Holes in the Economy” (American Sociological Review, 2012). With Columbia PhD student Mathijs de Vaan they recently published "Game Changer: The Topology of Creativity" in the American Journal of Sociology (Nov. 2015).

With Sheen Levine, he used experimental methods for a study, “Ethnic Diversity Deflates Price Bubbles” (Proceedings of the National Acadiy of Sciences) and “Diversity Makes you Brighter,” (an OpEd piece in the New York Times).

With Co-PI Matteo Prato, Stark is also working at the intersection of observation theory and network analysis to study how valuation is shaped by networks of attention. A recent paper, “Observing Finance as a Network of Observations” appears in Sociologica (September 2013). With former student, Daniel Beunza, Stark has been working on the social studies of finance. Their recent papers include: “From Dissonance to Resonance: Cognitive Interdependence in Quantitative Finance” (Economy and Society, 2012); and “Tools of the Trade: The Socio-Technology of Arbitrage in a Wall Street Trading Room” (Industrial and Corporate Change 2004).

Stark collaborated with art photographer Nancy Warner to publish This Place, These People: Life and Shadow on the Great Plains (Columbia University Press, 2014). He recently co-edited Moments of Valuation: Exploring Sites of Dissonance (Oxford University Press, 2015).

Other research addresses innovations in the public sphere including, for example, “PowerPoint in Public: Digital Technologies and the New Morphology of Dionstration” (with Verena Paravel) Theory, Culture & Society 2008; “Sociotechnologies of Assibly” (with Monique Girard) in Governance and Information: The Rewiring of Governing and Deliberation in the 21st Century, 2007; and “Rooted Transnational Publics: Integrating Foreign Ties and Civic Activism” (with Balazs Vedres and Laszlo Bruszt) Theory and Society 2006.

Stark was named a Guggenheim Fellow in 2002 and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the École normale supérieure de Cachan in 2013. He has been a visiting fellow at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris; the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Palo Alto; the Institute for Advanced Study in Hangzhou, China; the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne; the Copenhagen Business School; the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Study; the Russell Sage Foundation in New York City; the Institute of Advanced Study in Durham, UK; the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand; the European University Institute in Florence; the Institute for Advanced Study/Collegium Budapest; the Center for the Social Sciences in Berlin; and the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna.