How R&D lost its ampersand
The notion of corporate R&D is undergoing a radical transformation. Instead of viewing research and development as separate silos of an organization staffed by separate employees, companies are now working to fuse together R & D into a new innovation paradigm that places a premium on bringing products to market as quickly as possible. As The Economist explains, in the old days, companies like IBM, Xerox and AT&T created vast research organizations staffed by white-coated scientists, who in turn spent R&D lavish budgets in order to come up with The Next Big Thing. These massive R&D organizations are now a thing of the past:
"Now the big
corporate laboratories are either gone or a shadow of what they were.
Companies tinker with today's products rather than pay researchers to
think big thoughts. More often than not, firms hungry for innovation
look to mergers and acquisitions with their peers, partnerships with
universities and takeovers of venture-capital-backed start-ups. The
traditional separation of research and development... is rapidly disappearing, especially in the information-technology
However, this transformation does not mean that the glorious era of game-changing technological breakthroughs is over:
AT&T ran the telephone network, IBM
"The approach to R&D is
changing because long-term research was a luxury only a monopoly could
afford. In their heyday, the big firms dominated their markets.
dominated the mainframe-computer business and Xerox was a synonym for
photocopying. The companies themselves saw the cost of basic scientific
research as a small price to pay for such power.
R&D, none has any intention of filling the shoes left empty by Bell Labs or Xerox PARC. Research and development... are once again becoming entwined. Old-fashioned R&D is losing its ampersand."
technology firms are much less vertically integrated. They use networks
of outsourced suppliers and assemblers, which has led to the
splintering of research divisions. Even though big American firms still
spend billions of dollars on
The new paradigm involves integrating researchers into the everyday flow of the business. Instead of being given carte blanche to dream up new ideas, however, these researchers are typically assigned to commercially-viable projects and given specific time frames. As The Economist explains, the ultimate goal at companies like Microsoft, Google and IBM is to blur the distinction between "research" and "development," such that products emerge even faster from the research pipeline.
[image: AT&T Bell Labs from The Economist]
Researchers discover a link between nonverbal synchronization and relationship success.
- Scientists say coordinating movements leads to increased intimacy and sexual desire in a couple.
- The improved rapport and empathy was also observed in people who didn't know each other.
- Non-verbal clues are very important in the development stages of a relationship.
Humans evolved to live in the cold through a number of environmental and genetic factors.
- According to some relatively new research, many of our early human cousins preceded Homo sapien migrations north by hundreds of thousands or even millions of years.
- Cross-breeding with other ancient hominids gave some subsets of human population the genes to contend and thrive in colder and harsher climates.
- Behavioral and dietary changes also helped humans adapt to cold climates.
Could this be the long-awaited solution to economic inequality?
Under capitalism, the argument goes, it's every man for himself. Through the relentless pursuit of self-interest, everyone benefits, as if an invisible hand were guiding each of us toward the common good. Everyone should accordingly try to get as much as they can, not only for their goods but also for their labour. Whatever the market price is is, in turn, what the buyer should pay. Just like the idea that there should be a minimum wage, the idea that there should be a maximum wage seems to undermine the very freedom that the free market is supposed to guarantee.
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