Engines of Tomorrow
, by former Business Week
technology editor Robert Buderi, is a serious look at the role corporate research plays in long-term business success. Despite a perception that such activity has been dramatically scaled back in recent years, Buderi says, the opposite is actually true among today's global business leaders; in truth, he notes, there are now almost 13,000 corporate labs in the U.S. alone, employing some 700,000 scientists and engineers who spend about $150 billion annually. And, he writes, this is "the prime venue where New Knowledge is converted into Useful Products, and where success and failure can be most plainly gauged in terms of patents, market share, sales, stock prices, and the like." To support his contention, he goes inside more than two dozen facilities at nine of the biggest innovators in the U.S., Europe, and Japan--IBM, Siemens, NEC, Lucent Technologies, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Xerox, Intel, and Microsoft--where he examines "management philosophies, funding paradigms, incentive programs, and all the rest" employed by the leading labs. Recommended for anyone interested in the underlying factors that actually drive corporate growth. --Howard Rothman
From Publishers Weekly
This illuminating history of corporate research and development divisions by former Business Week technology editor Buderi (The Invention That Changed the World) shows that despite the widely held perception of cut backs in R&D, these labs are not only here to stay but are central to the economic survival of leading companies like GE, Siemens, IBM, Microsoft and NEC. There are now close to 13,000 corporate labs in the United States alone, employing an estimated 700,000 scientists and engineers and performing close to 75% of all R&D in the country. Buderi's historical survey makes clear that the height of pure science research in corporate R&D departments during the 1950s and '60s was anomalous. Fueled by the attitude that scientists were gods and that scientific research should be conducted without imposing any controls, that research heyday came to an end with the arrival of harsher economic realities. During the '70s and '80s, amid the pressures of increased competition and horror stories of fruitless research at Xerox and Bell Labs, R&D divisions did in fact reduce their budgets. By the late 1990s, however, according to Buderi, the labs of IBM, Intel, Lucent and other industry leaders were thriving once more, although they now operate on a strict model of "science well-founded on areas likely to benefit the corporation." If only Buderi had applied the same model of efficiency he champions to his own book, it would have emerged as a less repetitious and more innovative work. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.