Nicole Biggart (1977)

Professor of Management and Sociology, UC, Davis

I came to Berkeley in the 1970s totally unhip. I had worked in 'management' for six years and wanted to study organizations. After feeling the power of corporations to shape lives, and having lived through a massive reorganization, I wanted to learn more and take a break from wearing suits. Todd Gitlin told me one day that I looked 'suburban,' and it wasn't a compliment. It was also true. But Berkeley couldn't have been a better place to develop the skills I have used for the last 25 years studying Asian business groups, working class women involved in direct selling organizations, and most recently, the commercial building industry and its failure to embrace energy-efficient technologies. Although the topics have varied widely, I have always been concerned with the intersection of power, interests, and meaning in economic organization, lessons I learned from Philip Selznick and Reinhard Bendix.

I have spent my entire career at UC Davis with a joint appointment in the Graduate School of Management and in Sociology. It has been a perfect situation for me. I typically teach classical theory to Sociology graduate students and organization and technology classes to MBAs. We have a very activist MBA cohort at UCD and I am the advisor to the pro-bono consulting program we run for non-profit organizations. We're helping a coffee cooperative in Nicaragua now.

Professionally, I have been active in promoting Economic Sociology as an alternative to neoclassical accounts of markets and economic action. I've had the good fortune to travel around the world promoting an institutional and historical understanding of economies.

Dissertation Title: 
The Magic Circle: A Study of Personal Staffs in the Administrations of Governors Ronald Reagan and Jerry Brown
Dissertation Book Title: 
Governor Reagan, Governor Brown : a sociology of executive power