Josh Whitford

Associate Professor of Sociology, Columbia University
Chapter Member: New York City SSN
Areas of Expertise:

About Josh

Whitford's research explores the social, political and institutional implications of productive decentralization (outsourcing) in manufacturing industries. He is especially interested in industrial and technology policy, with a particular focus on the ways in which policymakers can and should respond to the highly fragmented production structure that is characteristic of those industries today (i.e. he asks how we should react to the fact that things that used to be made in large factories are now made across many small factories).


A Strategy to Foster Advanced Manufacturing in the United States

  • Fred Block
  • Matthew R. R. Keller
  • Andrew Schrank

In the News

Guest to discuss the state of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. on MPR's The Daily Circuit, Josh Whitford, September 25, 2012.
Guest to discuss the current state of American manufacturing on WPR's At Issue with Ben Merens, Josh Whitford, March 11, 2009.


"Network Failures and Innovation in the New Old Economy," Connect Innovation Institute, January 31, 2012.

Shows that the traditional justification for industrial policy – the identification of an identifiable market failure – is incomplete. Shows how "network failures" – which are often a more pressing problem insofar as the goal is to foment innovation – can be identified and remedied.

"Industrial Policy in the United States: A Neo-Polanyian Interpretation" (with Andrew Schrank). Politics & Society 37, no. 4 (2009): 521-553.
Challenges the widely held notion that U.S. political institutions – such as federalism and the separation of powers – are incompatible with an active industrial policy.
"Surviving the Fall of a King: The Regional Institutional Implications of Crisis at Fiat Auto" International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 29, no. 4 (2005): 771-795.
Explores the response of the automotive-centered productive system in Turin and the surrounding Piedmont region in the wake of a major crisis at Fiat Auto, and helps to understand more generally how regional industrial policy can, by focusing on the needs and importance of supplier firms, cushion a manufacturing system when such crises occur.
The New Old Economy: Networks, Institutions, and the Organizational Transformation of American Manufacturing (Oxford University Press, 2005).
Shows how manufacturing industries have been transformed by outsourcing and the ensuing reliance of manufacturers on armies of suppliers, with a particular focus on the need to understand how the American economic development apparatus can be adjusted to better meet the challenges of a highly decentralized production regime.