Industrial Performance Center

The MIT Industrial Performance Center (IPC) is dedicated to the study of industries in the United States and in other advanced economies. The center brings together the intellectual resources of MIT in a search for fresh insights into the nature and origins of successful industrial performance. Through our research we seek to help leaders in business, labor, government, and the universities better understand global industrial development and to work with them to develop practical new approaches for strengthening public policies, business strategies, technical practices, and educational programs. With the participation of about 30 faculty members and more than 50 students from the Schools of Engineering; Management; Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; and Architecture and Planning, the center today serves as a listening post on industry, monitoring and interpreting industrial trends, techniques, and patterns of organization.

Educational Program Highlights

In Academic Year 2000–2001, the IPC awarded three new doctoral fellowships. Doug Fuller received a Fellowship to carry out his research on the role of Western Corporations in the Development on China's Technology-Based Industries. Danny Breznitz was awarded a Fellowship to pursue his comparative research on Entrepreneurship and State Policymaking in Emerging Industries in Israel, Ireland, and Taiwan. Raquel Gomes received a Fellowship for her studies of Brazilian Fruit Growers and Their Relationship to the Global Economy.

During this past academic year the center continued to sponsor a faculty seminar on "The Entrepreneurial, Global University." The seminar examines the social, economic, and technological trends that are reshaping the higher education industry and that may ultimately redefine its role in society. It is designed to serve as a forum in which leading members of the MIT community and the Boston-area academic community more broadly can consider the full range of these developments and reflect on their implications for strategy and practice.

Research Highlights

The center's research is organized around three major themes: Technology and the Changing American Workplace; Systems and Strategies for Innovation; and Globalization and its Implications for Industries and Societies.

The center continues its major research program on globalization. The term 'globalization' refers to the set of changes in the international economy that are tending towards the creation of a single world market for capital, goods, and services. In each of these dimensions, globalization raises new challenges for sustaining innovation, growth, societal well being, and broad political legitimacy in the nations it encompasses. The IPC Globalization Study focuses on one aspect of these developments: the fragmentation of the production systems of firms in the advanced economies, and the relocation of parts of these enterprises to other societies. Research on this topic is currently underway in the United States, Europe, Japan, Mexico, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Latin America. The IPC Globalization Study team is led by Professor Suzanne Berger (Political Science), and also includes Professors Tayo Akiwande (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science [EECS]), Don Lessard (Sloan), Richard Lester (Nuclear Engineering), Richard Locke (Sloan), Michael Piore (Economics), Charles Sodini (EECS), Edward Steinfeld (Sloan), and IPC research associate Tim Sturgeon, and also includes research affiliates from Germany, Japan, and Taiwan.

A second IPC research initiative related to globalization was also launched this year. The new project focuses on the investment and contracting practices of multi-national corporations in emerging economies, the implications of these practices for sustainable economic development, and the role of labor and environmental standards and related codes of conduct. The central questions that the study seeks to understand are: in what circumstances is sustainable economic development facilitated by the interaction between multi-national corporations and host countries, and in what circumstances is it distorted or suppressed? Under what conditions does the application of international standards stifle growth and development, and conversely when do such standards promote industrial upgrading, productivity gains, and increased competitiveness? How effective are private and non-governmental attempts to monitor business practices and codes of conduct in relation to traditional government regulations? Participating faculty include, in addition to those mentioned above, Professors Joshua Cohen (Political Science), Thomas Kochan (Sloan), Robert McKersie (Sloan), Dara O'Rourke (Urban Studies and Planning), Judith Tender (Urban Studies and Planning), and Balakrishnan Rajagopal.

In April, the Industrial Performance Center organized the first national conference of the Sloan Industry Centers network, on "Corporate Strategies for the Digital Economy." The conference, which attracted nearly 300 academics, industrial practitioners, and policymakers to Cambridge, presented new research on corporate responses to technological change in a wide range of industries in domains such as research and new product development, logistics, the organization of supply chains, and the delivery of services.

Visitors to the IPC this year included Dr. Ji-Ren Lee, Professor of Management at National Taiwan University and Dr. Hervé Dumez, Research Professor at École Polytechnique in France.

Richard K. Lester

More information on the Industrial Performance Center can be found online at

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