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 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. 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 a book on the general theory of the network failure (with Andrew Schrank), a book on Fiat Auto’s merger with Chrysler (with Francesco Zirpoli and Markus Becker), and a project exploring affinities between pragmatist and neo-Polanyian approaches to the study of economic activity.
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 Quarterly, 32(4), pp.288-299
Brandt, P. and Whitford, J., 2017. Fixing network failures? The contested case of the American Manufacturing Extension Partnership. Socio-Economic Review, 15(2), pp. 331-357.
Whitford, J. and Zirpoli, F., 2016. The network firm as a political coalition. Organization Studies, 37(9), pp.1227-1248.
Whitford, J. and Zirpoli, F., 2014. Pragmatism, practice, and the boundaries of organization. Organization 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 industries. Politics & Society, 40(2), pp.249-272.
Schrank, A. Whitford, J., 2011. The anatomy of network failure. Sociological 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 interpretation. Politics & 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 production. Socio-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 Auto. International 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 manufacturing. Industry 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 privilege. Theory and Society, 31(3), pp.325-363.
Whitford, J., 2001. The decline of a model? Challenge and response in the Italian industrial districts. Economy and society, 30(1), pp.38-65.