In 1989, the MIT Commission on Industrial Productivity produced the Made in America report. One of the recommendations of Made in America was to establish the Industrial Performance Center (IPC) to carry on the interdisciplinary investigations of industrial productivity, innovation, and competitiveness that the Commission had begun. Established in 1991, with the help of a major grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the IPC has brought together faculty and students from all five MIT Schools in research collaborations on industry. Since its inception, the faculty, students and affiliates of the IPC have produced numerous books, articles, papers and other publications that have advanced the understanding of strategic, technological, and organizational developments in a broad range of industries.

Uncategorized | February 9, 2024

Work Organization and High-paying Jobs

Nathan Wilmers

Faculty Affiliate, Work of the Future

Dylan Nelson

Dylan Nelson is a Work of the Future Fellow and a postdoctoral scholar at MIT Sloan.

Letian Zhang

High-paying factory jobs in the 1940s were an engine of egalitarian economic growth for a generation. Are there alternate forms of work organization that deliver similar benefits for frontline workers? Work organization varies by types of complexity and their degree of employer control. Technical and tacit knowledge tasks receive higher pay for signaling or developing […]

Project | October 16, 2023

MIT Automation Clinic

Ben Armstrong

Ben Armstrong is Executive Director of the Industrial Performance Center and co-leads the Work of the Future Initiative.

Julie Shah

Julie Shah is Faculty Director of the Industrial Performance Center and co-leads the Work of the Future Initiative.

The Automation Clinic is an applied research and education program to understand how organizations make new technologies work in practice. MIT researchers and their partners work with organizations to learn the problems they aim to solve with new technologies, the challenges they face in deploying them, and the consequences for their workers, customers, and society. […]

Working Paper | October 9, 2023

The Transistor, an Emerging Invention: Bell Labs as a Systems Integrator Rather Than a ‘House of Magic’

Florian Metzler

Florian Metzler is a Research Scientist at the IPC, where he leads the Progress Studies program.

The transistor is one of the most consequential human inventions with dissemination of the eventual MOS-FET design estimated to exceed one quintillion devices. However, the transistor’s genesis remains poorly understood. Many received accounts associate transistor invention closely with a small group of Bell Labs scientists during the 1947-1948 period. This paper argues that such a […]

Working Paper | October 9, 2023

Models for Building Regional Manufacturing Economies: From ‘Home Alone’ to Regional Ecosystems

Ben Armstrong

Ben Armstrong is Executive Director of the Industrial Performance Center and co-leads the Work of the Future Initiative.

Dan Traficonte

At the national level, U.S. manufacturing has suffered from slow productivity, wage, and job growth for decades. At the regional level, industrial decline has hollowed out once-thriving industrial cities.

Article | October 9, 2023

The State of Industrial Robotics: Emerging Technologies, Challenges, and Key Research Directions

Julie Shah

Julie Shah is Faculty Director of the Industrial Performance Center and co-leads the Work of the Future Initiative.

Lindsay Sanneman

Lindsay Sanneman is a PhD candidate in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT

Christopher Fourie

Christopher Fourie is a PhD candidate in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a member of the Interactive Robotics Group.

Robotics and related technologies are central to the ongoing digitization and advancement of manufacturing. In recent years, a variety of strategic initiatives around the world including “Industry 4.0”, introduced in Germany in 2011 have aimed to improve and connect manufacturing technologies in order to optimize production processes.

Article | October 9, 2023

How American Adults Obtain Work Skills: Results of a New National Survey

Paul Osterman

Osterman is the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Professor of Human Resources and Management at MIT Sloan, as well as a member of the Department of Urban Planning.

Employer-provided training is an important determinant of economic outcomes, yet our understanding of its extent and distribution is well out of date—with the most recent national survey being from 2008. This article updates our understanding of employer-provided training.

Article | September 24, 2023

A Smarter Strategy for Using Robots

Ben Armstrong

Ben Armstrong is Executive Director of the Industrial Performance Center and co-leads the Work of the Future Initiative.

Julie Shah

Julie Shah is Faculty Director of the Industrial Performance Center and co-leads the Work of the Future Initiative.

Despite advances in automation technology, the promise of productive and flexible automation, with minimal involvement of human workers, is far from reality, for two main reasons. First, adoption of automation technology has been limited. Second, when firms do automate, what they gain in productivity they tend to lose in process flexibility, resulting in what the […]

Report | September 1, 2023

Building the Infrastructure for Innovation: Three Lessons from the CHIPS and Science Act

Ben Armstrong

Ben Armstrong is Executive Director of the Industrial Performance Center and co-leads the Work of the Future Initiative.

Bill Bonvillian

Richard Roth

A spotlight is on the U.S. semiconductor industry. After decades of decline, there is a wave of new investment from private industry and the federal government to jumpstart domestic chipmaking with the goal of making U.S. semiconductor production more cost competitive and technologically advanced. Whereas the United States did not have any chipmaking capacity at […]

Working Paper | July 24, 2023

Radical Technological Innovations and How to Promote Them

Florian Metzler

Florian Metzler is a Research Scientist at the IPC, where he leads the Progress Studies program.

New technologies that exhibit large (>10x) jumps in performance limits compared to incumbent technologies are radical technological innovations. This paper considers three cases that exhibit such jumps: the evolution of engines from the early 18th to the late 20th century (with the transition from coal-based steam engines to hydrocarbon-based internal combustion engines); the evolution of […]

Book | March 6, 2023

Learning by Building: Complementary Assets and the Migration of Capabilities in U.S. Innovative Firms

Elisabeth B. Reynolds

Executive Director, MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future; Executive Director, MIT Industrial Performance Center; Principal Research Scientist; Lecturer, Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

Hiram Samel

Joyce Lawrence

As policymakers in the United States debate how the economy can regain its vitality following the Great Recession, many see innovation as the key to prosperity.

Article | March 21, 2022

Unraveling the Silicon Valley Consensus

Ben Armstrong

Ben Armstrong is Executive Director of the Industrial Performance Center and co-leads the Work of the Future Initiative.

The Silicon Valley Consensus is that innovative cities grow faster than non-innovative ones—but that’s not always the case.

Article | March 21, 2022

Why Innovation Hubs Fail

Ben Armstrong

Ben Armstrong is Executive Director of the Industrial Performance Center and co-leads the Work of the Future Initiative.

Successful innovation hubs depend on who is leading, and how.