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ENGINES OF TOMORROW: How The Worlds Best Companies Are Using Their Research Labs To Win The Future Hardcover – May 4, 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (May 4, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684839008
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684839004
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,893,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I was very excited to get this book because I was antcipating a more global view of future research centers. What I found was a book that spent a lot of time reviewing the past and the research practices done then. Fortunately, towards the end of the book, I learned some interesting facts about how companies are preparing for tomorrow with their research arms. But I was none-the-less disappointed with the lack of substance on the research to come in the future.
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Format: Hardcover
Buderi explores the recent change of focus in research conducted in the U.S. American research during the 1950s and 60s enjoyed an unprecedented level of funding and latitude in pursuing projects. Basic research was lavishly funded by government agencies and many large corporations built ivory tower research organization that produced Nobel Laureates but not many commercial products. Corporate management has since taken a closer look at the R&D division; cost cutting and downsizing have dramatically changed top managements' perception of R&D. The days of the ivory tower are over and Buderi explores the radical mission changes at many R&D labs across the country. Through interviews with research managers the author gains some valuable information about how these business leaders view R&D, its role within the organization and their style of managing it. The author gives a detailed history of the corporate research division and discusses the attitudes and associated cultures being created at IBM, Siemens, NEC, GE, Bell Labs (Lucent), Xerox, HP, Intel and Microsoft.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a significant and comprehensive work that not only tracks the evolution of industrial research but details current practices at some of the world's best labs. I haven't come across any other book about research on this scale - combining history, management and cutting-edge projects. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Robert Buderi has produced a work of impressive detail - a thoroughly documented account of the workings of the world's leading research labs. The book carefully follows the financial swings of the R&D effort, and closely examines the increasing pressure on researchers to turn a quick buck. The history of this critical economic component is probably unknown to most readers, and Buderi tells an engrossing tale. The book's one inescapable shortcoming, however, is the fact that Buderi finishes his story without a mention of the vast innovation currently sprouting from sources far afield of the Fortune 500. In addition, little mention is made of what makes some research efforts flourish while others fade. Nevertheless, we at getAbstract highly recommend Engines of Tomorrow as a book that rises beyond a simple corporate history to a study in human innovation.
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Format: Hardcover
Engines was an easy and informative read. The author has really captured the essence of technology (where it has been and where it is going). A must read for anyone interested in the history and future of technology!
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