Josh Whitford

Josh Whitford

Research Interests

Biographical Notes

Josh Whitford’s interests include economic and organizational sociology, comparative political economy, economic geography and pragmatist social theory. His research focuses on regulation at the intersection of the public and private. He has written extensively on the social, political and institutional implications of productive decentralization (outsourcing) in manufacturing industries in both the United States and Europe, including especially of the kinds of “network failures” endemic to those production regimes. Whitford joined the Columbia Sociology faculty as an Assistant Professor in 2004 after a year at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, and is also a faculty affiliate at the Center on Organizational Innovation. In February 2007, he was named an Industry Studies Fellow by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for his research on industrial policy. Whitford is the author of The New Old Economy: Networks, Institutions and the Organizational Transformation of American Manufacturing(Oxford University Press 2005) and has written numerous articles. 


Ph.D. in Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2003

BA in Math/Italian, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1993


Brandt, P., Schrank, A. and Whitford, J., 2018. Brokerage and Boots on the Ground: Complements or Substitutes in the Manufacturing Extension Partnerships?Economic Development Quarterly32(4), pp.288-299

Brandt, P. and Whitford, J., 2017. Fixing network failures? The contested case of the American Manufacturing Extension PartnershipSocio-Economic Review, 15(2), pp. 331-357.

Whitford, J. and Zirpoli, F., 2016. The network firm as a political coalitionOrganization Studies, 37(9), pp.1227-1248.

Whitford, J. and Zirpoli, F., 2014. Pragmatism, practice, and the boundaries of organizationOrganization Science, 25(6), pp.1823-1839.

Lin, L. and Whitford, J., 2013. Conflict and Collaboration in Business Organization: A Preliminary Study. pp. 191-222 in J. Braucher, J. Kidwell and W. Whitford (eds), Revisiting the Contracts Scholarship of Stewart Macaulay: On the Empirical and the Lyrical. Oxford: Bloomsbury Publishing).

Zirpoli, F., Errichiello, L. and Whitford, J., 2013. Behavioral Decision-Making and Network Dynamics: A Political Perspective. In Behavioral Issues in Operations Management (pp. 199-219). Springer London

Whitford, J., 2012. Waltzing, relational work, and the construction (or not) of collaboration in manufacturing industriesPolitics & Society, 40(2), pp.249-272.

Schrank, A. Whitford, J., 2011. The anatomy of network failureSociological Theory 29 (3) pp. 151-177.

Whitford, J. and Schrank, A., 2011. The paradox of the weak state revisited: industrial policy, network governance, and political decentralization. in F. Block and M. Keller (ed), State of Innovation: The U.S. Government's Role in Technology Development, (New York: Paradigm Press).

Rossi, F., Russo, M., Sardo, S. and Whitford, J., 2010. Innovation, generative relationships and scaffolding structures: implications of a complexity perspective to innovation for public and private interventions. In: Ahrweiler, P. (ed.) Innovation in complex social systems. Routledge Studies in Global Competition. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Schrank, A. and Whitford, J., 2009. Industrial policy in the United States: A neo-Polanyian interpretationPolitics & Society, 37(4), pp.521-553.

Whitford, J., 2009. Lessons from industrial districts for historically Fordist Regions in Becattini, G., M. Bellandi and L. De Propris (eds), The Handbook of Industrial Districts (Edward Elgar).

Whitford, J. and Potter, C., 2007. Regional economies, open networks and the spatial fragmentation of productionSocio-Economic Review 5 (3), pp. 497-526.

Whitford, J., 2005. The new old economy: Networks, institutions, and the organizational transformation of American manufacturing. Oxford University Press

Whitford, J. and Enrietti, A., 2005. Surviving the fall of a king: The regional institutional implications of crisis at Fiat AutoInternational Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 29(4), pp.771-795.

Whitford, J. and Zeitlin, J., 2004. Governing decentralized production: institutions, public policy, and the prospects for inter-firm collaboration in US manufacturingIndustry and Innovation, 11(1-2), pp.11-44.

Whitford, J., 2002. Pragmatism and the untenable dualism of means and ends: Why rational choice theory does not deserve paradigmatic privilegeTheory and Society, 31(3), pp.325-363.

Whitford, J., 2001. The decline of a model? Challenge and response in the Italian industrial districtsEconomy and society, 30(1), pp.38-65.