Dr. Emily Erikson is Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Massachusetts Amherst. Strong central authorities are able to effectively manage costly defection, but are unable to adequately address lesser conflicts because of limits to their ability to monitor and enforce. We argue, counter-intuitively, that these limitations build cooperation and trust among subordinates: the limitations contribute to the production of order.
Through an examination of case studies, we isolate and describe the mechanisms by which central authority produces order as they operate in varied settings. We find that central authority may be effective, but the majority of this effectiveness derives from an indirect influence on dyadic relations rather than direct intervention. We briefly explore implications for the operation of law as well as the production of generalized trust.
Dr. Erikson's research interests include economic integration, the role of eastern markets in the development of capitalism, the relationship between organizational and network structure, and network dynamics. Her research incorporates multiple methods and uses a social mechanism-based explanatory approach to social processes. Recent research includes how organizations shape the expansion of foreign trade, the indirect effects of centralized authority on community-level relations, and the role of decentralized Asian markets in 17th-century market expansion.
Her most recent publication, co-authored with Peter Bearman and published in AJS, traced the positive impact of employee malfeasance in the English East India Company on organizational growth and the construction of the first global trade network. This research was covered by UPI and Scientific American. In addition to her teaching and research activities, Professor Erikson serves as Associate Editor for Social Science History.