Victor Nee's current research interests in economic sociology examines the role of networks and norms in the emergence of economic institutions and organizations:
1). He is working on an ongoing study of endogenous 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? In Capitalism from Below: Markets and Institutional Change (Harvard University Press 2012), he and Sonja Opper detail the theory and evidence in explaining the emergence of economic institutions of capitalism. The study employs "mixed-methods" integrating a longitudinal quantitative survey of private firms and CEOs (2006, 2009, 2012), face-to-face qualitative interviews with entrepreneurs and field experiments. The 2012 survey of firms collects network data using a name-generator instrument. A series of papers are in progress drawing on the longitudinal data set to examine a broad range of problems in economic sociology. These include examining the reflexive basis of reputation in multiplex networks, identifying the sources of trust in a low-trust society, examining the flow of novel ideas and innovation in multiplex networks, and the sources of cooperation in competitive markets.
2). He has begun a new research program on the making of knowledge-based regional economies in the United States. This entails research on the emergence and development in New York City of a high tech startup firms, and on the role of research universities like Cornell in sustaining knowledge-based economic activity. A sequel to the Yangzi delta study, the new study examines innovative activity and entrepreneurial action in the context of inclusive political and economic institutions of the United States.