William Duggan, author of Strategic Intuition: The Creative Spark in Human Achievement and the forthcoming The Aid Trap: Hard Truths About Ending Poverty, was recently profiled in a Wall Street Journal article that looked at the decision of some major companies not to cutback on research.
In “Don’t Bet on R&D,” Duggan argues that this decision might not be so prudent. Duggan suggests, “there is zero correlation between how much you spend on R&D and your company’s success.” What’s crucial for business is not necessarily their ability to discover or invent new technologies but their ability to exploit a market, product, or trend.”
Duggan points to General Electric, which under Jack Welch succeeded because of they focused on finding good technologies “that others spent money to develop, and then acting quickly to buy the technology or develop it in house, calling the approach ‘legitimate plagiarism.'”
On the national level, Duggan points to other scholars who are challenging the notion of “techno-nationalism” that suggests America must fund innovation to remain successful. Instead, some of the skeptics point out American companies should capitalize on innovation wherever it occurs, in India, China or the U.S.