Watson Institute at Brown University
Development Studies
Edward Steinfeld

Edward Steinfeld

Edward Steinfeld

Howard R. Swearer Director of the Thomas J. Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Dean's Professor of China Studies
Professor of Political Science
Director of the China Initiative

Areas of Interest: Political economy of contemporary China, political economy of global production and innovation, political economy of energy.


Edward Steinfeld is the Howard R. Swearer Director of the Thomas J. Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, the Dean's Professor of China Studies and professor in the Department of Political Science, as well as director of the China Initiative. Steinfeld received his BA, MA, and PhD in political science from Harvard University. In addition to a variety of academic articles, Steinfeld is the author of Playing Our Game: Why China's Rise Doesn't Threaten the West (Oxford, 2010) and Forging Reform in China: The Fate of State-Owned Industry (Cambridge, 1998). He is the author of numerous articles in both academic and non-academic journals, including Comparative Politics, Political Studies, World Development, the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the South China Morning Post. Steinfeld is a member of the board of directors of the National Committee on US-China Relations, as well as a member of the academic committee of the Center for Industrial Development and Environmental Governance at Tsinghua University.


Edward Steinfeld's research focuses on the political economy of contemporary China, the political economy of global production and innovation, and the political economy of energy. Steinfeld's 2010 book, Playing Our Game, examined the interconnections between the manner by which Chinese industrial producers have integrated into global supply chains, the institutional changes within China that have facilitated that integration, and the transformation of state-society relations which has resulted.

Currently, Steinfeld is working on two major projects. The first examines the nature of energy-related technology innovation within China and between Chinese and overseas commercial actors. The project – employing a bottom-up, enterprise-level focus – examines the phenomenon of cross-border technology co-development, particularly in renewable energy sectors.

A second project examines the institutional and regulatory drivers of industrial upgrading in developing economies. This work employs a comparative approach, focusing primarily on China and Vietnam, two nations that play a central role in global manufacturing assembly, but that have experienced differential rates of skills and technology upgrading.


Playing Our Game: Why China's Rise Doesn't Threaten the West. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

"Where China is Headed," Wall Street Journal, Oct. 14, 2010.

"Greener Plants, Grayer Skies: A Report from the Front Lines of China's Energy Sector," Energy Policy, Vol. 37, No. 5, May, 2009: 1809-1824. (with Richard Lester, and Edward A. Cunningham).

"The Capitalist Embrace: China Ten Years After the Asian Financial Crisis," in Andrew MacIntyre, T.J. Pempel, and John Ravenhill, eds., East Asia: Ten Years After the Crisis, Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press, 2008.

"Coal Consumption in China and India," Chapter 5 in The Future of Coal: An MIT Interdisciplinary Study, 2007. (with Richard K. Lester).

"The Rogue that Plays by the Rules," Washington Post, September 2, 2007.

"China's Shallow Integration: Networked Production and the New Challenges for Late Industrialization," World Development 32(11), 2004: 1971-1987.