PLAN 72: Article
'an Important Template For How To Do Industry Studies'

Polenske’s Prize-Winning Book Gets a Rave from the Sloan Foundation

Karen Polenske's book The Technology-Energy-Environment-Health (TEEH) Chain in China (Springer, 2006) has won the Sloan Industry Studies Best Book Award for 2007-2008. The Best Book Award carries with it an honorarium of $2500.

Chosen from among a field of industry studies published in 2005-2006, Polenske's book received a rave review from the selection committee: 'We consider this book to be an absolute exemplar of an industrial studies book,' they said, citing 'its impact on the industry and its potential impact as a model for industry studies across countries.'

Focused on coke-making in China’s Shanxi Province – which accounts for 40% of world coke production, one of the dirtiest industries in the world – the book deals with the issue of how changes in production technology are affecting energy intensities, the environment and human health.

It explores key economic, environmental, technology and transportation factors and stresses the crucial role of the Shanxi Province in encouraging improvements by introducing new technologies and encouraging pollution-abatement measures.

The research for the book, which was nine years in the making, offers practical implications for firm and industry performance, said the awards committee, 'including how plant managers can use technology to improve productivity and environmental performance, how Chinese officials can incentivize industry to site plants, achieve scale and adopt new technologies, how provincial officials can document and advocate for better industry performance, and how international buyers of coke might take into account human end environmental costs in their purchasing decisions.'

The book is also distinguished, the committee said, 'by its creative mix of quantitative and qualitative analysis; field work and secondary data analysis; US, Chinese and other international scientists; and the disciplinary perspectives of metallurgical and chemical engineers, physicists, economists and planners. Polenske was the clear leader of this international team. Her hand is visible in the study design, pulling together all of the participants, working with local Chinese officials, and in the writing of individual chapters.'

'Finally,' they said, 'the book represents an important template for how to do industry studies that incorporate regional and environmental data and blend methods from multiple disciplines. More broadly, it offers a model for how to build international interdisciplinary teams…. The effort will encourage scholars to do industry studies across national boundaries.'

Polenske is Professor of Regional Political Economy and Planning in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. She is director of the department’s multiregional planning research team, conducting cross-disciplinary work both internationally and domestically. In addition to the TEEH book, her recent books include The Economic Geography of Innovation (Cambridge University Press, 2007; editor); Chinese Economic Planning and Input-Output Analysis (Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1991; co-editor with Chen Xikang); and Frontiers of Input-Output Analysis (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989; co-editor with Ronald E. Miller and Adam Z. Rose).

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Is a philanthropic nonprofit institution established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan, Jr., then President and CEO of GM. Each year, the Foundation's Industry Studies Program acknowledges outstanding research of both junior and senior scholars through fellowships and awards for best paper, best book and best dissertation.