Capitalism from Below: Markets and Institutional Change in China (with Victor Nee), Cam-bridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012.

Chinese translation: Peking: Peking University Press, 2016

  • Winner of the George R. Terry Award 2013
  • Winner of the Gold Medal of the Axiom Business Book Award in the category for International Business and Globalization 2013
  • A Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2012

Zwischen Political Governance und Corporate Governance: Eine institutionelle Analyse chine-sischer Aktiengesellschaften (Between Political Governance and Corporate Governance. An Institutional Analysis of China’s Listed Firms), Habilitation, Schriftenreihe zur Ostasienforschung (ed. Dieter Cassel, Winfried Flüchter, Thomas Heberer, Günter Heiduk, Carsten Herrmann-Pillath and Werner Pascha), Baden-Baden, 2004.

Wirtschaftsreform und Beschäftigungswandel in der VR China (Economic Reforms and Employment Change in the PR of China), Schriftenreihe zur Ostasienforschung (ed. Dieter Cassel, Winfried Flüchter, Thomas Heberer, Günter Heiduk, Carsten Herrmann-Pillath and Werner Pascha), Bd. 11, Baden-Baden 1999.

Journal Articles:

Opper, Sonja. 2022. Social network and institution-based strategy research. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, in press.

Burt, Ronald S., Sonja Opper, and Hakan Holm. 2022. Cooperation beyond the Network. Organization Science, 33(2): 495-517.

Opper, Sonja and Ronald S. Burt. 2021. Social Network and Temporal Myopia. Academy of Management Journal, 64(3): 741-771.

Burt, Ronald S., Sonja Opper and Na Zou. 2021. Social Network and Family Business: Uncovering Hybrid Family Firms. Social Networks, 65 (May): 141-156.

Burt, Ronald S. and Sonja Opper. 2020. Political Connection and Disconnection: Still a Success Factor for Chinese Entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 44(6): 1199-1228.

Burzynska, Katarzyna and Sonja Opper. 2020. ”Interbank Relations, Environmental Uncertainty, and Corporate Credit Access in China.” Management and Organization Review, 16(3): 595-628.

Holm, Håkan J., Victor Nee, and Sonja Opper. 2020. ”Strategic Decisions: Behavioral Differences between CEOs and Others.” Experimental Economics, 23: 154-180.

Opper, Sonja and Fredrik N.G. Andersson. 2019. “Are Entrepreneurial Cultures Stable over Time? Historical Evidence from China.” Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 36(4): 1165-1192.

Andersson, Fredrik N.G., Sonja Opper and Usman Khalid. 2018. “Are Capitalists Green? Firm Ownership and Provincial CO2 Emissions in China.” Energy Policy 123: 349-359.

Burt, Ronald S., Yanjie Bian and Sonja Opper. 2018. “More or Less Guanxi: Trust is 60% Net-work Context, 10% Individual Differences.” Social Networks 54(July): 12-25.

Nee, Victor, Håkan J. Holm, and Sonja Opper. 2018. “Learning to Trust: From Relational Ex-change to Generalized Trust in China.” Organization Science 29(5): 969-986.

Burt, Ronald S. and Sonja Opper. 2017. “Early Network Events in the Later Success of Chinese Entrepreneurs.” Management and Organization Review 12(3): 497-537.

Opper, Sonja, Victor Nee and Håkan J. Holm. 2017. “Risk Aversion and Guanxi Activities: A Behavioral Analysis of CEOs in China.” Academy of Management Journal 60(4): 1504-1530.

DellaPosta, Daniel, Victor Nee and Sonja Opper. 2017. “Endogenous Dynamics of Institutional Change.” Rationality and Society 29(1): 5-48.

Andersson, Fredrik N.G., Katarzyna Burzynska and Sonja Opper. 2016. “Lending for Growth? A Granger Causality Analysis of China's Finance-Growth Nexus.” Empirical Economics 51(3): 897-920.

Opper, Sonja, Victor Nee and Stefan Brehm. 2015. “Homophily in the Career Mobility of China's Political Elite.” Social Science Research 54: 332-352.

Opper, Sonja and Victor Nee. 2015. “Network Effects, Cooperation and Entrepreneurial Innova-tion in China.” Asian Business & Management 14(4): 283-302.

Holm, Håkan, Sonja Opper and Victor Nee. 2013. ”Entrepreneurs under Uncertainty: An Eco-nomic Experiment in China.” Management Science 59:1671-1687.

Andersson, Fredrik N.G., David L. Edgerton and Sonja Opper. 2013. “A Matter of Time: Revisiting Growth Convergence in China.” World Development 45: 239-251.

Opper, Sonja, Sonia Wong and Yong Yang. 2012. “Sales Maximization or Profit Maximization: How State Shareholders Discipline their CEOs in China.” Asia-Pacific Journal of Financial Stu-dies 41(3).

Westerlund, Joakim, David Edgerton and Sonja Opper. 2010. “Why is Chinese Provincial Output Diverging?” Journal of Asian Economics 21(4): 333-345.

Nee, Victor and Sonja Opper. 2010. “Endogenous Institutional Change and Dynamic Capital-ism.” Sociologia del Lavoro 118: 15-37.

Nee, Victor and Sonja Opper. 2010. “Political Connections in China's Market Economy.” Social Forces 88(5): 2105-2133.

Nee, Victor, Jeong-han Kang and Sonja Opper. 2010. “Entrepreneurial Action: Market Transition, Property Rights, and Innovation.” Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics 166(3): 397-425.

Nee, Victor and Sonja Opper. 2009. “Bureaucracy and Finance.” Kyklos 62(2): 293-315.

Opper, Sonja and Sylvia Schwaag-Serger. 2008. “Institutional Analysis of Legal Change: The Case of Corporate Governance in China.” Journal of Law & Policy 26,

Nee, Victor, Sonja Opper and Sonia Wong. 2007. “Developmental State and Corporate Gover-nance in China.” Management Organization Review 3(1):19-53.

Hu, Yifan, Sonja Opper and Sonia Wong. 2006. “Political Economy of Labor Retrenchment: Evidence based on China’s SOEs.” China Economic Review 17(3):281-299.

Wong, Sonia M.L., Sonja Opper and Ruyin Hu. 2004. ”Shareholding Structure, De-politicization and Enterprise Performance: Lessons from China’s Listed Companies.” Economics of Transition 12(1): 29-66.

Opper, Sonja. 2004. “The Political Economy of Privatization: Empirical Evidence from Transition Economies.” Kyklos 57(4): 567-594.

Opper, Sonja. 2003. ”Enforcement of China’s Accounting Standards: Reflections on Systemic Problems.” Business and Politics 5(2): 151-173.

Opper, Sonja, Sonia M.L. Wong and Ruyin Hu “Party Power, Market and Private Power: CCP Persistence in China´s Listed Companies.” 2002. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 19: 103-136.

Opper. Sonja. 2001. “Dual-Track Ownership Reforms: Lessons from Structural Change in China, 1978-1997.” Post-Communist Economies 13(2): 205-227.

Opper, Sonja. 2001. “Der Stand der Neuen Institutionenökonomik.“ Wirtschaftsdienst. Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftspolitik 10(Okt.): 601-608.

Gurbaxani, Indira and Sonja Opper. 1998. “How Tensions between Specific Chinese and Ameri-can Interests Affect China`s Entry into the WTO,” Intereconomics. Review of International Trade and Development, September/October 1998, 33: 212-222.

Gurbaxani, Indira and Sonja Opper. 1998. “Chinas Weg in die WTO.“ Das Wirtschaftsstudium. Zeitschrift für Ausbildung, Examen und Berufseinstieg 10: 1106-08.

Feldmann, Horst and Sonja Opper.1998. “Neue Reformen der chinesischen Staatsbetriebe.” Osteuropa-Wirtschaft, 4: 396-414.

Opper, Sonja. 1997. “Chinesische Beschäftigungspolitik zwischen Stabilitäts- und Effizienzzielen.” Asien 65: 23-38.

Book Chapters

Opper, Sonja. 2021. Economic Change from an Institutional Perspective. A. Maurer (ed.), Handbook of Economic Sociology for the 21st Century, Handbooks of Sociology and Social research. Springer Nature, pp. 177-190.

Nee, Victor and Sonja Opper. 2015. “From Networks to Norms and Economic Institutions,“ Re-Imagining Economic Sociology, edited by Patrik Aspers and Nigel Dodd. Oxford: Oxford Uni-versity Press, pp. 148-173.

Nee, Victor and Sonja Opper. 2015. “Sociology and the New Institutionalism,”, International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, edited by Wright, James D. (ed.), 2nd edition, Elsevier, pp. 979-983.

Nee, Victor and Sonja Opper. 2014. “Markets and Institutional Change in China.” The Oxford Companion to the Economics of China, Shengen Fan, Ravid Kanbur, Shang-jin Wei and Xiaobo Zhang, Eds. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 267-272.

Nee, Victor and Sonja Opper. 2009. “Bringing Market Transition Theory to the Firm.” in Work and Organizations in China After Thirty Years of Transition, edited by Lisa A. Keister. Emerald Group Publishing.

Opper, Sonja. 2008. “New Institutional Economics in Transition & Developing Economies.” NIE-textbook, edited by Jean-Michel Glachant and Eric Brousseau, Cambridge University Press.

Opper, Sonja. 2007. “Going Public without the Public: Between Political Governance and Corpo-rate Governance.” in Barbara Krug/Hans Hendrischke (eds.) China in the 21st Century: Economic and Business Behaviour, London: Edward Elgar, pp. 1-20.

Opper, Sonja 2007. “Privatization,” Encyclopedia of Law and Society. American and Global Per-spectives. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2007.

Nee Victor and Sonja Opper. 2007. “On Politicized Capitalism.” in Victor Nee/Richard Swed-berg (eds.) On Capitalism, Stanford: Stanford University Press, pp. 93-127.

Opper, Sonja, Sonia M.L. Wong and Ruyin Hu. 2005. “The Power Structure in China’s Listed Companies: The Company Law and its Enforcement.” China's New Role in the International Community: Challenges and Expectations for the 21st Century, edited by H.D. Assmann and K. Moser v. Filseck, Frankfurt: Peter Lang, pp. 119-148.

Nee, Victor and Sonja Opper. 2005. “Economic Transformation in Post-Communist Societies.” in Jens Beckert and Milan Zafirovski, eds., International Encyclopedia of Economic Sociology, Routledge.

Opper, Sonja. 2004. “Inefficient Property Rights and Corruption: The Case of Accounting Fraud in China.” in Johann Graf Lambsdorff, Matthias Schramm, Markus Taube (eds.), Corruption and the New Institutional Economics, Routledge.

Opper, Sonja. 1999. “Arbeitsmarktinstitutionen und arbeitsmarktpolitische Instrumente in der VR China.” in: Hebel, Jutta and Schucher, Günter (ed.): Der chinesische Arbeitsmarkt. Strukturen, Probleme, Perspektiven, Mitteilungen des Instituts für Asienkunde, Nr. 306, pp. 45-67.

Opper, Sonja and Joachim Starbatty. 1999. “Menschenrechte und die Globalisierung der Wirtschaft - Konflikt oder Chance.“ n: Benita von Behr, Lara Huber, Andrea Kimmi and Manfred Wolff (eds.): Perspektiven der Menschenrechte, Beiträge zum fünfzigsten Jubiläum der UN-Erklärung, pp. 127-145.


  • Photography: Bauwerks, Chicago

Who I am

I am Professor at the Department of Management and Technology, Bocconi University. From 2005 to 2020, I was Gad Rausing Professor of International Economics and Business at Lund University, Sweden.

My Research

My current research draws on social and institutional explanations of entrepreneurial success. One line of research explores behavioral correlates and strategic implications of the social structure around individual entrepreneurs. Another line of work develops a social network foundation of institution-based strategy research.

Sonja Opper

Professor, Department of Management and Technology, Bocconi University
    Professorship qualification thesis (Habilitation)
    Eberhard-Karls-University, Tübingen, July 22, 2003
    Ph.D. in Economics
    Eberhard-Karls-University Tübingen, May 1999
    Dissertation: "Economic Reforms and Employment Change in China", summa cum laude
    M.A. in Economics
    Eberhard-Karls-University, Tübingen, 1995

    Institutional change

    Social Networks

    Organization and Management Theory



    Professor, Department of Management and Technology, Bocconi University, 2020-

    Gad Rausing Professor of International Economics (with a focus on China), Lund University, 2005-2020

    Associate professor (Privatdozentin) at the Economic Faculty of Tübingen University, 2003-2005.

    Assistant professor at the Economic Faculty of Tübingen University, 1999-2003.

    Research assistant at the Economic Faculty of Tübingen University, 1995-1999.


    OMT Best Paper in Entrepreneurship Award, Academy of Management, 2016

    George R. Terry Best Book Award in Management, Academy of Management, 2013

    Gold Medal Axiom Business Book Award in International Business and Globalization, 2013

    Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2012

    Dissertation Award of Excellence, Chamber of Industry and Commerce, 1999


    “The Making of Knowledge-based Metropolitan Economies: IT Start-ups in International Comparison," Marcus and Marianne Wallenberg Foundation, 2014-2016, 6,988k SEK, Principal Investigator.

    “How China Innovates: Interfirm-cooperation in High-risk Environments,” Craafordska Stiftelsen, 2012-2013, 250 SEK, Principal Investigator.

    “Firms and Politicized Capitalism: A Longitudinal Study of China’s Private Enterprise Economy,” Handelsbanken Stiftelsen, 2,000k SEK, 2011-2014, Principal Investigator

    “Political Connections and External Shocks: Evidence from China,” Craafordska Stiftelsen, 250k SEK, 2010, Principal Investigator

    “Comparative Institutional Analysis,” Seed grant of the University of Lund; 3,000k SEK, 2009-2012, Principal Investigator

    “Social Capital and Finance,” Vetenskapsrådet (Swedish Science Council), research grant, 2,400k SEK, 2008-2011, Principal Investigator

    VG-Wort; publication grant / publication of professorship qualification thesis, 2004

    Research grant of the German Science Foundation, 2000-2002

    Travel grant from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), 1996

    Scholarship from the state of Baden-Württemberg, 1996-1997