Josh Whitford

Josh Whitford

Biographical Notes

Josh Whitford’s interests include economic and organizational sociology, comparative political economy, economic geography and pragmatist social theory. His research focuses on the social, political and institutional implications of productive decentralization (outsourcing) in manufacturing industries in both the United States and Europe. He is especially interested in the causes and consequences of, but also fixes for, a series of “network failures” that he has shown to be endemic to decentralized production regimes. Whitford joined the Columbia Sociology faculty as an Assistant Professor in 2004 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. 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. He is currently working on two main projects: When Networks Fail, a book on the general theory of the network failure (Princeton University Press; with Andrew Schrank); and Icons on the Edge, a book on Fiat Auto’s merger with Chrysler (University of Chicago Press; with Francesco Zirpoli and Markus Becker).


Ph.D., Wisconsin, 2003


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.