Research & Development

36 Results

 

A Scholarly Crowd Explores Crowdsourcing

At the Open and User Innovation Workshop, several hundred researchers discussed their work on innovation contests, user-led product improvements, and the biases of crowds. Open for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Innovation Is Magic. Really

When Stefan Thomke teaches students how to manage innovation and creativity, he turns to an unexpected source: Magician Jason Randal. Open for comment; 12 Comments posted.

U.S. High-Skilled Immigration, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship: Empirical Approaches and Evidence

In the 2008 Current Population Survey, immigrants represented 16 percent of the United States workforce with a bachelor's education. Moreover, immigrants accounted for 29 percent of the growth in this workforce during the 1995-2008 period. Exceeding these strong overall contributions, the role of immigrants within science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields is even more pronounced. Even so, the importance of the global migration of STEM talent has been under-studied. In this paper, which focuses exclusively on the United States' experience, the author reviews academic work regarding the effects of global migration on innovation and entrepreneurship. Findings show that while some aspects of the phenomenon are well understood, such as the quantity and quality of immigrants, scholars still have very little insight on others, such as return migration. Overall, immigration has clearly been essential for the United States' leadership in innovation and entrepreneurship. There is also evidence of positive impacts of high-skilled diasporas for home countries, although the ledger that can be measured in the United States remains incomplete. Read More

Clusters of Entrepreneurship and Innovation

For many decades, the common wisdom among local officials pursuing employment growth for their areas was to attract a large firm to relocate. This "smokestack chasing" led to many regional governments bidding against each other and providing substantial incentives to large plants making their location choice decisions. The success of entrepreneurial clusters in recent decades, however, has challenged this wisdom, and now many policy makers state that they want their regions "to be the next Silicon Valley." This has led to extensive efforts to seed local entrepreneurship, with today's politicians routinely announcing the launch of an entrepreneurial cluster in a hot industry, such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, or advanced manufacturing. In this paper, the authors explore the rationale for and efficacy of policies to promote local entrepreneurship and innovation and reflect on recent initiatives in this domain. Read More

Fostering Translational Research: Using Public-Private Partnerships to Improve Firm Survival, Employment Growth, and Innovative Performance

The authors demonstrate that a unique Danish mediated public-private partnership model for fostering the translation of basic science into commercial applications help firms significantly decrease the likelihood of bankruptcy while substantially increasing the average level of employment. Funded firms in the study were granted significantly more patents and published more peer-reviewed papers, and the impact of these publications was significantly higher. In addition, the mediated partnership model improved the knowledge produced as well as the collaborative behavior of scientists with a significantly higher level of citations and more cross-institutional coauthored publications. Read More

LEED-ing by Example

When a local government decides to pursue environmentally aware construction policies for its own buildings, the private sector follows suit, according to new research by Timothy Simcoe and Michael W. Toffel. Closed for comment; 7 Comments posted.

Colocation and Scientific Collaboration: Evidence from a Field Experiment

In recent years there has been considerable interest in the policy arena on fostering collaborative and especially interdisciplinary collaborations. Yet there is scant evidence on how to do this in practice. To learn how team members find each other in the scientific community and decide to collaborate, the authors designed and carried out an experiment involving Harvard University and its affiliated hospitals. Results suggest that matching between scientists may be subject to considerable frictions, even among scientists in relatively close geographic proximity and in the same organizational system. However, even a brief and focused event facilitating face-to-face interactions can be useful for the formation of new scientific collaborations. Read More

Funding Innovation: Is Your Firm Doing it Wrong?

Many companies are at a loss about how to fund innovation successfully. In his new book, The Architecture of Innovation, Professor Josh Lerner starts with this advice: get the incentives right. Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

Creating an R&D Strategy

This note by Gary P. Pisano provides a framework for designing an R&D strategy. It starts with the simple notion that a strategy is a system approach to solving a problem. An R&D strategy is defined a coherent set of interrelated choices across decision concerning: organizational architecture, processes, people, and project portfolios. To illustrate the framework, we use examples of three pharmaceutical companies and examine how their different R&D strategies were rooted in different assumptions about the core driver of R&D performance. This suggests that the very first question to be answered in strategy development is: What's our shared understanding of the root cause of the problem we are trying to solve? Read More

Kodak: A Parable of American Competitiveness

When American companies shift pieces of their operations overseas, they run the risk of moving the expertise, innovation, and new growth opportunities just out of their reach as well, explains HBS Professor Willy Shih, who served as president of Eastman Kodak's digital imaging business for several years. Open for comment; 32 Comments posted.

Improving Fairness in Flight Delays

Airlines and the FAA don't like flight delays any more than passengers, but what's to be done? Assistant Professor Douglas Fearing and colleagues propose a "fairness" system that could save travelers time and service providers millions of dollars annually. Open for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Agglomerative Forces and Cluster Shapes

HBS professor William R. Kerr and doctoral candidate Scott Duke Kominers develop a theoretical model for analyzing the forces that drive agglomeration, or industrial clustering. It is rare that researchers systematically observe the forces like technology sharing, customer/supplier interactions, or labor pooling that lead to firm clustering. Instead, the data only portray the final location decisions that firms make (for example, firms that utilize one type of technology are clustered over 50 miles, while those using another technology are clustered over 100 miles). The researchers' model identifies how these observable traits can be used to infer properties of the underlying clustering forces. Read More

Funding Unpredictability Around Stem-Cell Research Inflicts Heavy Cost on Scientific Progress

Funding unpredictability in human embryonic stem-cell research inflicts a heavy cost on all scientific progress, says professor William Sahlman. Open for comment; 6 Comments posted.

Growth Through Heterogeneous Innovations

Economists have long recognized that innovation is central to economic growth and development. But as a profession, economics is just beginning to model the many types of innovations that exist and the amazing heterogeneity in the firms that conduct research and development--from General Electric to Silicon Valley start-ups. This paper provides theoretical and empirical evidence surrounding how firm size influences the types of R&D undertaken, with particular focus on choices to pursue exploration R&D (capturing new product lines) versus exploitation R&D (refining current product lines internally). From the choices made by individual firms and new entrepreneurs, the model then builds to consider aggregate economic growth. Research was conducted by Ufuk Akcigit of the University of Pennsylvania and William R. Kerr of Harvard Business School. Read More

The Challenges of Investing in Science-Based Innovation

Smart science-based businesses view today's economic turmoil as an opportunity to stoke up research and innovation for long-term competitive advantage, says professor Vicki L. Sato. How about your business? Read More

Incompatible Assumptions: Barriers to Producing Multidisciplinary Knowledge in Communities of Scholarship

Just as flows of knowledge within and across communities of practice improve the quality of new products, knowledge sharing among knowledge workers within interdisciplinary communities may be critical for new discoveries and for a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of phenomena. In spite of this, biologists tend to talk to biologists, economists tend to talk to economists, and lawyers tend to talk to lawyers. This paper argues that producing and disseminating knowledge within a multidisciplinary community of practice is enhanced when knowledge workers hold compatible assumptions, even when the form and content of knowledge generation across those workers varies. Read More

The Value of Openness in Scientific Problem Solving

Scientists are generally rewarded for discoveries they make as individuals or in small teams. While the sharing of information in science is an ideal, it is seldom practiced. In this research, Lakhani et al. used an approach common to open source software communities—which rely intensely on collaboration—and opened up a set of 166 scientific problems from the research laboratories of twenty-six firms to over 80,000 independent scientists. The outside scientists were able to solve one-third of the problems that the research laboratories were unable to solve internally. Read More

The Immigrant Technologist: Studying Technology Transfer with China

Immigrants account for almost half of Ph.D.-level scientists and engineers in the U.S., and are prime drivers of technology development. Increasingly, however, Chinese technologists and entrepreneurs are returning home rather than staying in the U.S. to pursue opportunities. Professor William Kerr discusses the phenomena of technology transfer and implications for U.S.-based businesses and policymakers. From New Business. Read More

The Industry R&D Survey: Patent Database Link Project

The development and diffusion of new innovations are central to economic growth, and understanding the firm-level underpinnings of technology progress is important to academics, policymakers, and business managers. While many researchers have examined (either separately or together) corporate research and development and technology diffusion, they run into two significant data constraints. William R. Kerr and Shihe Fu describe how they developed a new dataset for studying corporate innovation that encompasses three important existing datasets. This paper summarizes the Industry R&D Survey for researchers who want to study innovation through the Census Bureau's data. Read More

Open Source Science: A New Model for Innovation

Borrowing a practice that is common in the open source software community, HBS professor Karim R. Lakhani and colleagues decided to see how "broadcasting" might work among scientists trying to solve scientific problems. The results? Promising for many types of innovation, as he explains in this Q&A. Read More

Mixing Students and Scientists in the Classroom

In his course on commercializing science and technology, Lee Fleming combines students from business, engineering, law, science, and medicine. The result: Ideas for products from scale-eating bacteria to quantum dot cancer treatments. Read More

The Accidental Innovator

Many important innovations are the byproduct of accidents—the key is to be prepared for the unexpected. Professor Robert D. Austin discusses his research and practical implications on the concept of accidental innovation. Read More

Behavioral Operations

Organizations often commit to more product development projects than they can handle. And while people do not always behave rationally, most research on operations management still assumes they do. This paper explores theoretical and practical ways to study the effects of behavior and cognition on operations. Read More

IPR: Protecting Your Technology Transfers

Countries are adopting stronger intellectual property rights to entice international corporate investment. But who really benefits from IPR? Should multinationals feel secure that their secrets will be protected? A Q&A with professor C. Fritz Foley. Read More

The Cycles of Theory Building in Management Research

How do business academics know they are categorizing or measuring the best things to help us understand interesting phenomena? Scholars waste a lot of time and energy disparaging and defending various research methods. Yet the stakes are high for business academics to create theory that is intellectually rigorous, practically useful, and able to stand the tests of time. The authors describe a three-stage process for building theory; discuss the role of anomalies for building better theory; and suggest how scholars can refine research questions, carry out projects, and design student coursework. Read More

Do Managers’ Heuristics Affect R&D Performance Volatility? A Simulation Informed by the Pharmaceutical Industry

Can the R&D process be managed to provide more certainty and success? The authors explore R&D performance volatility using the pharmaceutical industry as the model. The study looks at two types of heuristics that are commonly used to manage R&D project portfolios: (1) which products to start, and whether to continue or kill a product in development; (2) how resources should be allocated at each phase of development. By changing the heuristics used to make decisions at each stage of development, managers can decrease the amount of uncertainty and failure in the R&D process. Read More

Caves, Clusters, and Weak Ties: The Six Degrees World of Inventors

Your company's scientists and investors can be antennas that bring great ideas into your company. The key, says HBS professor Lee Fleming, is understanding small-world networks. Read More

Does Speed Trump Intellectual Property?

Speed can enhance product development and innovation, but speed can also be used effectively by fast imitators to both save design costs and preempt market share. Closed for comment; 17 Comments posted.

Cheap, Fast, and In Control: How Tech Aids Innovation

Companies don’t need to spend a fortune on research and innovation. HBS professor Stefan Thomke explains how new technologies enable businesses to experiment on the cheap in his new book, Experimentation Matters. Read More

The Benefits of “Not Invented Here”

Not all the smart people work for you. By leveraging the discoveries of others, companies can produce spectacular results. A Q&A with professor Henry Chesbrough on his new book. Read More

How Bank of America Turned Branches into Service-Development Laboratories

In this Harvard Business Review excerpt, HBS professor Stefan Thomke describes how Bank of America applies a systematic R&D process to create services. Read More

A Toolkit for Customer Innovation

It seems almost counterintuitive. But this Harvard Business Review excerpt by Harvard Business School professor Stefan Thomke and MIT's Eric von Hippel suggests that you stop listening closely to your customers—and instead give them tools for creating their own products. Read More

When In-House Research Isn’t Enough

Big companies have long relied on their own internal R&D efforts to help build new products and services. But Professor Henry Chesbrough says corporate research has to broaden its vision and incorporate external resources to support new initiatives. Here's why. Read More

The Essentials for Enlightened Experimentation

In the past, the high cost of experimentation has greatly impacted many firms' ability to successfully innovate. But now, new technologies are enabling reinvention of R&D from the ground up. HBS associate professor Stefan Thomke explains. Read More

Networked Incubators: Hothouses of the New Economy

Are business incubators a fleeting phenomenon or a lasting way of bringing start-ups to fruition? Four HBS professors argue that one particular model—the "networked incubator"—is most likely to endure. Read More

From Spare Change to Real Change: The Social Sector as a Beta Site for Business Innovation

U.S. companies have too often viewed the social sector as a dumping ground for their spare cash, obsolete equipment, and tired executives, but that mind-set, says HBS Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, has hardly created lasting change. In this excerpt from an article in the Harvard Business Review, she issues a call for corporate social innovation, an approach, says Kanter, that's more R&D than it is charity. Read More