The Analytical Economist; February 1993; Scientific American Magazine; by Elizabeth Corcoran; 1 Page(s)
The war stories of corporate research laboratories are poignant at best, costly at worst. Remember when Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center held the pieces of the personal computer revolution on its desktops, but the corporation could not see a route to market? Or the time when IBM's John Cocke sketched out ideas for reduced instruction set computer (RISC) designs, but the corporation declined to take up the technology until after others had established tidy businesses?
All too often, the corporate giant that nurtures an innovative idea seems to be the last to make use of it. In many cases, companies are reluctant to undertake the arduous process of bringing a new research idea to market, particularly if it promises to cannibalize an established winner. As a result, upstart firms often topple industrial Goliaths by commercializing radical innovations--even those invented in the labs of the giants themselves.