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.