Industrial Research - Where It's Been, Where It's Going

By Fusfeld, Herbert I. | Research-Technology Management, July/August 1995 | Go to article overview

Industrial Research - Where It's Been, Where It's Going


Fusfeld, Herbert I., Research-Technology Management


Three critical transition periods have affected the nature and conduct of industrial research: 1870-1910, World War II, and a period of declining technical self-sufficiency that began around 1970 (see illustration, next page).

Between 1870 and 1910, industrial research gave the new science-based chemical and electrical industries the more focused and more timely technical support needed to conduct their business and pursue growth opportunities. The companies no loner had to depend on the unpredictable advances generated externally. From this start, and with the added stimulus of World War I, there was a steady growth of industrial research up to World War II.

World War II had three consequences of profound significance for industrial research.

* A great reservoir of technical advances became available for further development in commercial areas.

* Public expectations were raised for the potential of science and technology in new products.

* New techniques of systems development were successful in planning and conducting complex technical programs that required the generation of new knowledge as an integral part of the planned program.

This last point was critical for the growth of industrial research after World War II, particularly for U.S. corporations. A generation of industry executives, from R&D managers to CEOs, had either participated in developments such as radar and the atomic bomb, or they had observed the activity and the results.

Confidence in the ability to include R&D as part of a broader objective within a time and cost schedule was imbedded in corporate management of the 1950s and 1960s. That confidence was a major factor in making technical change the basis for competitive advantage. In addition, management support for R&D was encouraged in those years by relatively low interest rates, which made R&D a good investment and long-term research acceptable. For U.S. corporations, commercialization of R&D was made easier by American dominance of world trade while Europe and Japan were rebuilding their industrial base.

In this favorable climate, the postwar expansion of industrial research included growth of the great corporate central laboratories of AT&T, GE, IBM, Du Pont, and many others. These laboratories provided the concentration of technical resources needed to generate the major advances in electronics, computers, advanced materials, and communications that pushed industrial growth in the late 20th century.

Declining Technical Self-Sufficiency

For 30 years following World War II, corporations were able to plan growth strategies based on technical resources that existed internally or that were easily available and affordable in a reasonable time. In that sense, the corporation was technically self-sufficient.

That situation changed for most corporations sometime between the mid-1970s and the late 1980s, as increasing demands upon industrial research came up against a limiting characteristic of technical progress: In any given field, there is a steady rise in the cost and complexity for generating significant new technical advances. By the end of the 1970s, the demands upon industrial research were growing faster than the increases in R&D necessary to meet them. The ability of a corporation to set forth a growth strategy with confidence that it possessed, or could easily obtain, the technical resources necessary to support that strategy was gradually lessening. In short, the technical self-sufficiency of corporations began to decline.

The past 10-15 years have changed the conduct of industrial research in certain critical ways. Technology managers have had to develop access to external sources of technology, not simply to have more information but to identify partners for future research programs. Increased corporate activity with universities, with government consortia, with cooperative research programs, and with joint ventures, all result from the common pressure to access external technology. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Industrial Research - Where It's Been, Where It's Going
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.