The Center for Industry Studies was created because of research that started in the Sloan Steel Industry Center, which was one of the first research centers sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation´s Industry Centers Program . The Sloan Foundation program, which began in 1990 was based around the idea that the complexity of the challenges faced by modern industry requires knowledge from a broad range of academic disciplines. This perspective led to the creation of the Center for Industry Studies as a focal point for multidisciplinary industry research at the University of Pittsburgh. The Center was founded on the belief that academic research concerning industry can further scholarly disciplines while it helps to create educational opportunities for students and promote economic development. In 2002, the Sloan Foundation began a partnership with the Center for Industry Studies to help build an academic community around the concept of industry studies research - research in which scholars from a wide range of academic disciplines have made commitments to ground their work in the practical experience of industry.
As a consequence of this collaboration, the Industry Studies Association was launched in October 2007, became tax exempt in September 2008as a 501 (c) (3) organization, and began accepting general membership in April 2009. Professor Giarratani was the founding President of the Industry Studies Association, and served in that capacity from 2007 - 2011. Today, the Industry Studies Association has over 400 members world-wide and draws from a variety of academic disciplines, including economics, engineering, operations research, and business administration. These scholars collaborate through publications, committee work, and annual conferences that showcase latest advances in scholarship related to industry.