Biography

Walter W. Powell is Professor of Education (and) Sociology, Organizational Behavior, Management Science and Engineering, Public Policy, and Communication at Stanford University, and Lewis A. Coser Visiting Professor at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.  From 1999 to 2010, he was director of Scancor at Stanford; today he remains involved with Scancor through supervising the postdoctoral fellows program and running the annual PhD workshop in Europe.  At Stanford, Powell is faculty co-director of the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society.

Powell works in the areas of organization theory, economic sociology, and the sociology of science.  His interests focus on the processes through which knowledge is transferred across organizations, and the role of networks in facilitating or hindering innovation and of institutions in codifying ideas.  His most recent book written with John Padgett is The Emergence of Organizations and Markets, Princeton University Press (2012).

Powell is the author or editor of Books: The Culture and Commerce of Publishing, with Lewis Coser and Charles Kadushin (Basic Books, 1982); Getting into Print: The Decision-Making Process in Scholarly Publishing (U. of Chicago Press, 1985);  The New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis, with Paul DiMaggio (U. of Chicago Press, 1991); Private Action and the Public Good, with Elisabeth Clemens (Yale U. Press, 1997); and The Nonprofit Sector, with Richard Steinberg (Yale U. Press, 2006).  He received his PhD in Sociology from SUNY – Stony Brook in 1978, and previously taught at Yale, MIT, and the University of Arizona. He holds honorary degrees from Uppsala University, Copenhagen Business School, and the Helsinki School of Economics, and is a foreign member of the Swedish Royal Academy of Science.

His 1990 article, “Neither Market Nor Hierarchy: Network Forms of Organization,” won the 1991 Max Weber prize; “Network Dynamics and Field Evolution: The Growth of Inter-Organizational Collaboration,” with D. White, K. Koput, and J. Owen-Smith (2005), received the 2007 Viviana Zelizer prize for best paper in economic sociology.  “Technological Change and the Locus of Innovation: Networks of Learning in Biotechnology,” with K. Koput and L. Smith-Doerr (1996), was recognized by Administrative Science Quarterly as its most influential publication in 2002. His 1983 paper with Paul DiMaggio, “The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields,” with Paul DiMaggio, is the most cited article in the history of the American Sociological Review.