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Piore, Fine take new CTPID posts

The Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development (CTPID) has appointed Professors Michael J. Piore and Charles Fine as associate directors of the Center. These new CTPID positions were made possible by a tenfold increase in research activity through the 1990s.

"We are excited to have such respected and well-known professors from the social and management sciences serving in an active role at the Center," said Professor Daniel Roos, director of the CTPID, which was established in 1985 with the goal of fostering teaching and research focused on policy issues related to science and technology.

"Now with stronger ties to the Department of Economics and the Sloan School of Management, we hope to involve a broader group of researchers in our interdisciplinary educational and research programs."

Dr. Piore, a labor economist and the David W. Skinner Professor of Economics and Management, has written extensively on various aspects of industrial relations and employment and training. In contrast with the dominant approach in economics, which tends to treat economic activity as analytically separate from social life, his work is distinguished by its concern with the way in which economic activity is embedded in institutional and social structures, and in turn with the impact of those structures on economic activity and public policy interventions.

"The CTPID has been one of the most successful examples of university-industry collaboration in recent years," Professor Piore said. "The test of the Center as a model for future industry-university relations now depends on its ability to extend progressively over time the range and scope of scholarly collaboration which it is able to foster. My role is to help in that endeavor."

Professor Piore's most recent work has focused on the changing institutional structures of industrial economies and the shift from mass production to "flexible specialization." He has been particularly interested in the increasingly important and changing role of small business and of agglomerations of small firms in the same industry. He has also been studying the decentralization of power and authority in large corporate organizations to enhance their flexibility.

Dr. Fine is an associate professor at Sloan and co-director of both the Center's International Motor Vehicle Program (IMVP) and the Fast and Flexible (Agile) Research Program. His work on technology supply chains, which aims to make technology sourcing policies more systematic and strategic by combining theoretical models with in-depth, site-oriented research, has helped to shape the current direction of the IMVP.

"As industry restructures itself with such concepts as `lean production' and `fast and flexible manufacturing,' organizations must be much more aware of the supply chain design decisions that are being made," Professor Fine said.

"Often competencies get outsourced before anyone in the company has thought carefully about what capabilities will be needed most for next-generation products. As associate director I hope to tie together more closely the research in the Center's projects on industrial competitiveness, encourage researchers to look across industries and across time for examples of good practice, and to use such examples to enrich the theoretical frameworks we have available. The Center's work on technology sourcing and supply chain management-across IMVP, LAI, and the Fast and Flexible projects-illustrates how this might be done."

Professor Fine's teaching has focused on operations management, managerial accounting and manufacturing strategy, with excursions into quality management and product development. His early research was primarily on understanding the economics of quality improvement and flexible manufacturing.

The appointments come at a time not only of significant growth of the CTPID but also its 10th anniversary at MIT. The researchers will help unify the Center's programs with each other and with other programs throughout MIT, and thus enhance its ability to help industry and governments understand and implement the rapidly evolving technology in a changing global economy.

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