Ikhlaq Sidhu, Tal Lavian, Victoria Howell – University of California, Berkeley. Accepted paper for 2015 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition. June 2015.
Our purpose is to develop new models that define the advanced development & corporate research approaches of modern global high-tech firms. While the world has moved on from Bell Labs’ famous advanced research model, visionary and farsighted technology-driven innovation is still vital to many of today’s most successful global technology companies. Corporate innovation strategies are implemented through research laboratories, academic collaborations, advanced technology groups, standards groups, CTO office prototypes, internal/external incubations, and open innovations. Unlike the well-understood nature of short-term product development, long time frames, fuzzily defined goals, and unclear measures of success lead to uncertainty about how to run best and fund advanced technology and applied corporate research. While all firms agree that cutting-edge research is vital, their measures and processes differ widely. To identify modern models of effective advanced research approaches, the context in which such approaches are most effective, and the metrics by which they should be evaluated, we interviewed leaders at various successful and established global firms such as Cisco, Intel, Google, and others. We used the data collected to inductively arrive at six models that characterize modern advanced research approaches. These models’ approaches were different in that some rely on academic and industry collaboration while others revolve around disrupting the status quo. The fact that the companies included in this study were successful means that all the models reflect a practical approach to advanced research. Therefore, no single model should be considered better or ideal than the other. The models could be helpful to a company trying to create an appropriate advanced research approach based on its goals and needs. Similarly, these models could help a company fine-tune its existing R&D approach as its goals and identity development over time. The models we present here provide proper terminology and will serve as the backbone for further study of advanced development & corporate research approaches.