Michael Best is professor emeritus, University of Massachusetts Lowell where he is Co-Director of the Center for Industrial Competitiveness and is Academic Associate, Centre for International Business and Management, Judge Institute of Management Studies, University of Cambridge. His ‘capability and innovation’ perspective on industrial growth is developed and illustrated with enterprise, regional and national case studies in two books, The New CompetitiveAdvantage: The Renewal of American Industry, Oxford University Press, 2001 and The New Competition: Institutions of Industrial Restructuring, Harvard University Press, 1990, and a series of articles (see publications
The Capabilities and Innovation perspective was simultaneously shaped by and applied in enterprise modernization, technology management, and sector development projects he has led in various industrial settings including London, Slovenia, India, Cyprus, Jamaica, Honduras, Ireland and Malaysia as well as in Massachusetts.
Best has recently been involved in two European Union projects. The first was to transfer the vTHREAD technology for application to Ireland and was funded through the the Marie Curie Action Fellowship Programme for Transfer of Knowledge hosted by the Center for Innovation and Structural Change at the National University of Ireland at Galway. The second resulting in the published monograph titled Cross Border Economic Renewal: Rethinking Irish Regional Policy (with John Bradley) was commissioned by the the Centre for Cross Border Studies and funded under the Special EU Programme Body (www.crossborder.ie
Professor Best was a founding editorial board member of Massachusetts Benchmarks: The Quarterly Review of Economic News and Insight, jointly published by the University of Massachusetts and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston; and was Center Evaluator and member of the Industrial Advisory Board for the Biodegradable Polymer Research Center, an Industry-University Cooperative Research Center sponsored by the National Science Foundation to carry out research on biodegradable polymers. Member companies include 3M, Monsanto, Eastman Chemical, Dow, BASF, BF Goodrich, and Cargill plus the Environmental Protection Agency of the US Government. He was on the board of the Massachusetts Product Development Corporation, a quasi-public, royalty-based financial institution from 1986 to 1992 and conducted sector strategy analyses at the Greater London Enterprise Board, a public sector venture capital agency from 1983 to 1985.
The research methodology that informs Professor Best’s approach demands going inside the firms in any region or nation to characterize both the relative position and performance of enterprises within the global business and production system, but also to capture the distinctive regional and national ‘signatures’ of enterprises. This involves an analysis of the ‘industrial eco-system’ in which firms operate including the deep craft skills, the specific engineering expertise, the science and technology infrastructure, business development finance, and other extra-firm characteristics that impact on business performance. Yet a third layer of investigation is required. This involves utilizing commercial datasets of companies and, resources permitting, constructing longitudinal databases populated by commercial datasets, but classified by engineering-informed taxonomies.