Innovation and Management (20 Apr 2005)
The most famous of the industrial research laboratories was the great A T & T Bell Telephone Laboratory that had dominated the world of communications for decades, but there were many other fine laboratories. General Electric, Hewlett Packard, Hughes Aircraft, Westinghouse, General Motors and so on, all maintained large research facilities and relied on them to provide the ideas and technologies for their new products. I chose the new IBM Research Laboratory because IBM led in computer technology and they were running some projects where I could apply my PhD research directly. And besides the IBM laboratory was housed in a magnificent new Eero Saarinen building surrounded by 70 acres of beautiful grounds in the country 50 minutes north of New York City and everyone was talking about it. As I have said this was the era when the industrial research laboratories dominated the world of innovation.
But that was forty years ago and much has changed since then, and it is the way things have changed that I discuss this evening. The domination of the large industrial research laboratory has largely come to an end, and in all fields except perhaps pharmaceuticals, those that remain no longer operate in the same manner. They have become far more focussed on product development. It is the way this has happened, and what has replaced these large institutions which once seemed so dominant and impregnable, that interests me.
Article URL: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/reith2005/lecture3.shtml
(Reith Lectures 2005)
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