Mark C. Suchman Professor of Sociology

Before coming to Brown in 2008, Professor Suchman taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1993-2006) and at Cornell Law School (2006-2007). From 1999 to 2001, he was a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at Yale, and in 2002-2003 he was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He has also served as a Program Officer for Virtual Organizations and Learning and Workforce Development in the National Science Foundation's Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (2012-2013).

Professor Suchman's research interests center on the relationship between law, innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly in the information technology, nanotechnology, and healthcare sectors. He is currently writing a book on the role of law firms in Silicon Valley, and he is midway through a multi-year project on the organizational, professional and legal challenges surrounding new information technologies in health care. In addition, he has written on organizational legitimacy, on inter-organizational disputing practices, on the "internalization" of law within corporate bureaucracies, and on social science approaches to the study of contracts.

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

scholarly work

Suchman, Mark C. (2010), "Unpacking the Stanford Case: an Elementary Analysis," pp. 373-386 in K. Schoonhoven & F. Dobbin, eds., Stanford's Organization Theory Renaissance, 1970-2000. Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing.

Suchman, Mark C. and Matthew D. Dimick (2010), "A Profession of IT's Own: The Rise of Health Information Professionals in American Healthcare," p. 132-173 in D. Rothman & D. Blumenthal, eds., Medical Professionalism in the New Information Age. East Rutherford, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Suchman, Mark C. and Elizabeth Mertz (2010), "Toward a New Legal Empiricism: Empirical Legal Studies and New Legal Realism," Annual Review of Law and Social Science 6:555-79

Deephouse, David L. and Mark C. Suchman (2008), "Legitimacy in Organizational Institutionalism." pp. 49-77 in R. Greenwood, C. Oliver, R. Suddaby & K. Sahlin-Andersson eds., The SAGE Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Suchman, Mark C. and Lauren B. Edelman (2007), "The Interplay of Law and Organizations," in L.B. Edelman & M.C. Suchman (eds.), The Legal Lives of Private Organizations. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Publishing.

Edelman, Lauren B. and Mark C. Suchman, eds. (2007), The Legal Lives of Private Organizations. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Publishing.

Suchman, Mark C. (2006), "Empirical Legal Studies: Sociology of Law, or Something ELS Entirely?" Amici 13(2):1-4.

Suchman, Mark C. (2005), "Putting Sociology of Law on the Map," Amici 13(1):2-4.

Suchman, Mark C. (2003), "The Contract as Social Artifact," Law and Society Review 37(1):91-142. (Honorable mention for the 2003 Law & Society Association Article Award.)

Suchman, Mark C. (2002), "Social Science and Nanotechnologies," pp. 95-99 in M. Roco & R. Tomellini (eds.) Nanotechnology: Revolutionary Opportunities and Societal Implications. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

Scheid, Teresa L. and Mark C. Suchman (2001), "Ritual Conformity to the Americans with Disabilities Act: Coercive and Normative Isomorphism," in S. Hartwell & R. Schutt (eds.), Research in Social Problems and Public Policy 8:101-136. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Suchman, Mark C. (2001), "Organizations and the Law," pp. 10948-10954 in N.J. Smelser & P.B. Baltes (eds.) International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Oxford: Pergamon.

Suchman, Mark C. (2001), "Envisioning Life on the Nano-Frontier," pp. 271-276 in M.C. Roco & W.S. Bainbridge (eds.), Societal Implications of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. Boston, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Suchman, Mark C., Daniel Steward and Clifford Westfall (2001), "The Legal Environment of Entrepreneurship: Observations on the Legitimation of Venture Finance in Silicon Valley," in C. Schoonhoven & E. Romanelli (eds.), The Entrepreneurship Dynamic: The Origins of Entrepreneurship and Its Role in Industry Evolution. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.

Suchman, Mark C. (2000), "Dealmakers and Counselors: Law Firms as Intermediaries in the Development of Silicon Valley," pp. 71-97 in M. Kenney (ed.), Understanding Silicon Valley: The Anatomy of an Entrepreneurial Region. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.

Edelman, Lauren B. and Mark C. Suchman (1999), "When the 'Haves' Hold Court: The Internalization of Law in Organizational Fields," Law and Society Review 33(4):941-991. (Reprinted in H.M. Kritzer and S.S. Silbey, eds., In Litigation: Do the 'Haves' Still Come Out Ahead? Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, forthcoming).

Suchman, Mark C. (1999), "The Evolution of Standardized Venture Capital Financing Contracts in Silicon Valley," in T. Tanase (ed.), Keiyaku Hori to Keiyaku Kanko [Contract Doctrines and Contract Practices], Tokyo: Kobundo.

Suchman, Mark C. (1998), "Working Without a Net: The Sociology of Legal Ethics in Corporate Litigation," Fordham Law Review 67:837-874.

Suchman, Mark C. (1997), "On Beyond Interest: Rational, Normative and Cognitive Perspectives in the Social Scientific Study of Law," Wisconsin Law Review 1997(3):475-501.

Edelman, Lauren B. and Mark C. Suchman (1997), "The Legal Environments of Organizations," Annual Review of Sociology 23:479-515.

Eyre, Dana P. and Mark C. Suchman (1996), "Status, Norms and the Proliferation of Conventional Weapons: An Institutional Theory Approach," pp. 79-113 in P.J. Katzenstein (ed.), The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

Suchman, Mark C. and Lauren B. Edelman (1996), "Legal Rational Myths: The New Institutionalism and the Law and Society Tradition," Law and Social Inquiry 21(4):903-941.

Suchman, Mark C. and Mia L. Cahill (1996), "The Hired-Gun as Facilitator: The Case of Lawyers in Silicon Valley," Law and Social Inquiry 21(3):679-712.

Suchman, Mark C. (1995), "Localism and Globalism in Institutional Analysis: The Emergence of Contractual Norms in Venture Finance," pp. 39-63 in W.R. Scott and S. Christensen (eds.), The Institutional Construction of Organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Suchman, Mark C. (1995), "Managing Legitimacy: Strategic and Institutional Approaches," Academy of Management Review 20(3):571-610.

Suchman, Mark C. (1995), "Translation Costs: A Comment on Sociology and Economics," Oregon Law Review 74(1):257-273.

Suchman, Mark C. (1995), "Review of The Lost Lawyer: Failing Ideals of the Legal Profession, by Anthony T. Kronman," Contemporary Sociology 24:243-244.

Suchman, Mark C. and Dana P. Eyre (1992), "Military Procurement as Rational Myth: Notes on the Social Construction of Weapons Proliferation," Sociological Forum, 7(1):137-161.

Suchman, Mark C. (1992), "On the Control of Legitimacy in Organizational Life: Strategic and Institutional Approaches," report prepared for the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board Task Force on Civilian Radioactive Waste Management.

Suchman, Mark C. (1992), "Analyzing the Determinants of 'Everyday' Conversion," Sociological Analysis 53:s15-s33.

Suchman, Mark C. (1989), "Invention and Ritual: Notes on the Interrelation of Magic and Intellectual Property in Preliterate Societies," Columbia Law Review, 89:1264-1294. (Excerpted in Intertek 3(4):30-40.)

Bolander, Bruce D. with Mark C. Suchman (1989), "Sale and Lien Perfection Under the U.C.C.," pp. 623-692 in R.S. Dayan ed., Structured Mortgage and Receivables Financing 1989. New York: Practicing Law Institute.

Suchman, Mark C. (forthcoming), "Constructed Ecologies: Reproduction and Structuration in Emerging Organizational Communities," in W.W. Powell & D. Jones (eds.), Remaking the Iron Cage: Institutional Dynamics and Processes. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

research overview

My research interests center on the relationship between law, innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly in the information technology, nanotechnology, and healthcare sectors. I am currently writing a book on the role of law firms and venture capital funds in fostering high-technology entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley, and I am midway through a multi-year project on the organizational, professional and legal challenges surrounding new information technologies in health care.

research statement

ON ADVICE OF COUNSEL: LAW, FINANCE AND THE EVOLUTION OF SILICON VALLEY

This book project investigates the role of law firms and venture capital funds in fostering high-technology entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley. Focusing on the Valley's formative years, the study examines (a) how entrepreneurs, lawyers, and venture capitalists worked together to formulate novel solutions to recurring business problems, and (b) how these interactions shaped the region's distinctive business style and identity.

Organizational theorists argue that the birth of an industry represents a period of both opportunity and uncertainty. New technologies create new niches, but technical knowledge rarely offers much guidance on how to structure businesses to fill those niches. Frequently, the success of an infant industry depends on how quickly participants sense that they are engaged in a common enterprise. Once businesses become aware of their similarities, they can begin to learn from one another's experiences, and to develop recognized models for exploiting the new industry's potential. As such understandings spread, the industry comes to look less like a random collection of unrelated organizations and more like a true community.

The study's findings will provide useful insights both for businesses struggling to survive the turbulence of new industries and also for policy-makers seeking to mold this turbulence into viable and innovative economic communities.


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THE ORGANIZATIONAL, PROFESSIONAL AND LEGAL CHALLENGES
OF NEW INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES IN HEALTHCARE

This study explores the organizational, professional and legal challenges posed by clinical information technology (CIT) in American healthcare. Of particular interest are the new federal privacy, security and data-standardization regulations adopted under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) -- as well as the policies and practices that healthcare organizations have implemented to become "HIPAA-compliant."

Although CITs such as electronic medical records and computerized practitioner order-entry promise to improve the quality and efficiency of patient care, they also raise the specter of new forms of competition, regulation, surveillance, and inequality. The present study focuses on the "governance mechanisms" -- laws, rules, ethics and norms -- that are emerging to manage this CIT revolution. The project promises important insights into how issues of privacy, security and data-standardization intersect with one another, as legal enactments, organizational cultures, and professional ethics combine to determine the fate of CIT initiatives both within particular organizations and throughout the healthcare sector as a whole.

The study's findings will help policymakers to develop the immense potential of CIT while avoiding the equally immense pitfalls. At the same time, the research will also help social scientists to understand the basic forces that shape innovation, standardization, trust, accountability, and legal compliance in the healthcare arena.

funded research

University of Wisconsin Center for the Demography of Health and Aging Pilot Grant (2005-2006), "Grandma, Grandpa and Big Brother: Elders' Understandings of Clinical Information-Technology Governance." $25,000.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award (2003-2007), "Mapping the Organizational, Professional, and Legal Challenges of New Information Technologies in Healthcare." $273,500.

National Science Foundation Research Grant (2003-2008), "The Organizational, Professional, and Legal Challenges of New Information Technologies in Healthcare." $326,000.

University of Wisconsin Graduate School Research Committee Research Grant (2002-2004), "Mapping the Organizational, Professional, and Legal Challenges of New Information Technologies in Healthcare." $31,000.

National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award (1997-2001), "An Institutional Ecology of Silicon Valley Legal Practice." $300,000.

University of Wisconsin Graduate School Research Committee Research Grant (1995-96), "Venture Capital Financing Practices Among High-Technology Start-Ups: A Study of the Relationship Between Governance Structure and Corporate Performance." $10,000.

University of Wisconsin Graduate School Research Committee Research Grant (1994-95), "Business Service Providers in Silicon Valley: Research on the Ecology of Inter-Organizational Pollinators in an Emerging Industry." $27,000.

University of Wisconsin Hilldale Fund Undergraduate/Faculty Research Fellowship (1994-95), "When Weapons Become Symbols: Research on the Portrayal and Proliferation of the Exocet Missile in the Wake of the Falklands/Malvinas War." (with Nika Zaluski) $4,000.