David Stark

Department of Sociology

Research Interest

Economic Sociology

David Stark is Arthur Lehman Professor of Sociology at Columbia University where he directs the Center on Organizational Innovation. In his recent book, The Sense of Dissonance: Accounts of Worth in Economic Life (Princeton University Press, 2009), Stark studies how organizations and their members search for what is valuable. Dissonance – disagreement about the principles of worth – can lead to discovery. To study the organizational basis for innovation, he has carried out ethnographic field research in Hungarian factories before and after 1989, in new media start-ups in Manhattan before and after the dot.com crash, and in a World Financial Center trading room before and after the attack on September 11th.

Stark’s current research employs large datasets to study the social sources of creativity. Supported by a major grant from the National Science Foundation (with former PhD student and Co-PI Balazs Vedres), his research team is developing network analytic methods to examine the historical structures whereby teams assemble, disassemble, and resassemble. They are currently analyzing data on every commercially released video game (some 28,000 video games involving an estimated 310,000 unique invididuals) and approximately 40,000 jazz recording sessions involving some 400,000 musicians).  With Columbia PhD student Mathijs de Vaan they recently published "Game Changer: The Topology of Creativity" in the American Journal of Sociology (Nov. 2015).

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 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.