A Strategy to Foster Advanced Manufacturing Networks in the United States

Fred Block
University of California, Davis
Matthew R. Keller
Southern Methodist University
Andrew Schrank
University of New Mexico
Josh Whitford
Columbia University

In SSN's first "Strategy Brief" – an argument of up to ten pages with recommendations to tackle an important public challenge – four leading SSN scholars explain why and how the U.S. federal government can actively foster networks of firms and researchers to propel growth and innovation in advanced manufacturing industries.

Read the full advanced manufacturing brief here.

The United States has the potential to be a global leader in advanced manufacturing. The Obama administration has taken valuable first steps, but the federal government can do much more to foster vibrant networks of companies, engineers, and researchers, all of whom must interact regularly to speed discoveries to market and keep up with fast-moving innovations in robotics, clean energy technologies, advanced battery production and other growing sectors. Interactive networks linking decentralized actors are crucial to advanced manufacturing today.

For successful models, the SSN co-authors look to the past efforts of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as to advanced manufacturing programs in other nations. They spell out the costs and benefits of new and expanded government undertakings, and make five specific policy recommendations – to expand the current Manufacturing Extension Partnership; fund advanced laboratories; foster smaller regional labs; create a national center for advanced manufacturing skills; and establish an agency to monitor and remove blockages of key supplies of scarce materials advanced manufacturers must have. Their brief offers a ready-made strategy to boost American economic growth and leadership.

Click on each co-author's name to learn more about his expertise and contributions:

  • Fred Block at the University of California, Davis, is an economic sociologist who investigates the interplay of market forces and government activities.
  • Matthew Keller at Southern Methodist University is an economic sociologist doing research on government's role in fostering economic innovation.
  • Andrew Schrank of the University of New Mexico is a political scientist who studies industrial policy and labor market regulation. He is the co-director of the Southwest SSN regional network.
  • Josh Whitford of Columbia University is a sociologist studying technology policies and the implications of decentralized production structures in advanced societies.


January, 2013