Xerox PARC: Innovation without Profit?

            
 
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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.



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Case Details:

Price:

Case Code : BSTR150 Electronic Format: Rs. 400;
Courier (within India):Rs. 25 Extra
Business Strategy | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Business Strategy, Case Studies

Themes

Innovation
Case Length : 16 Pages
Period : 1970-2004
Organization : Xerox PARC
Pub Date : 2005
Teaching Note : Not Available
Countries : United States
Industry : -

Abstract:

PARC was set up in 1970 as the research arm of Xerox Corp, to invent the technology of the future. In a little over 30 years since it was set up, till it was incorporated as a Xerox subsidiary in 2002, PARC invented a number of products which revolutionized the computer industry. The prototype of the modern PC, local area networks, Graphical user interface, commercial application of the mouse, page description languages, laser printers, etc, all took birth at PARC. However, despite its scientific excellence, Xerox failed to capitalize on the commercial potential of most of these innovations. Analysts have said that this could have been because of the casual and flexible culture that prevailed at PARC.


This flexibility allowed people to pursue projects of their interest with no concern for commercial value. Another important reason could have been the distance of PARC from the corporate headquarters, cut off from the competition of the corporate world. It was also suggested that there was a basic mismatch between the objectives and working methods of PARC scientists and the people at the corporate office. In the early 21st century PARC was spun-off as an independent subsidiary of Xerox. Xerox had also set up some subsidiaries to help commercialize the inventions that came out of PARC.

Issues:

To understand the conflicting structure and culture issues involved in managing innovation successfully - promoting creative thinking to develop innovative ideas and products, and ensuring the discipline to commercialize these ideas and products successfully

To study the ways in which an organization may break away from its past of lost opportunities and restructure itself to meet the needs of the future

Contents:

  Page No.
PARC Spin-Off 1
The Purpose of PARC 2
The Human Angle 2
Innovations From PARC 4
Later Innovations 6
The Ones That Got Away 7
Now, To Innovation With Profit? 9
Exhibits 11

Keywords:

Case, Xerox PARC, Innovation, Palo Alto Research Center, Managing Research, Managing Innovation, History of Information Technology, Breakthrough innovation and Commercializing Innovation.

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