A top-down perspective on economic performance provides a focus on factors that affect the behavior of economies, especially the fiscal and monetary policies that influence overall levels of employment, income, savings, and investment. However, the distinguishing characteristic of the IPC's research is our emphasis on close observation of what is happening in particular industries from the ground up – on the factory floors and in the offices, the laboratories and the classrooms. It is here that the struggle to improve competitive performance is won and lost.

The Center's faculty and student researchers have carried out over two thousand visits to firms on every continent, from clothing factories in China to biological research laboratories in England to NASCAR garages in North Carolina. The insights gained during these visits constitute an extraordinary record of industrial change and the opportunities and risks it presents, resulting in scores of theses, books, reports and articles published by IPC researchers.