Outsourced R&D… a flawed Architecture?

I find this blog post and especially the following discussion comments a powerful argument for careful planning and management of “decentralized R&D”.   This is another name now given to constructs with new areas of R&D that are outsourced.  Lots of good ideas and points made on all sides so long as you avoid stepping on the emotional land mines.


I added my two cents and only wish we could have such a robust discussion here.  What I comment on and will have as a later topic is how to design to prevent such failures as what is described for Boeing.  Good R&D Architecture is based on many things, but a key design component is what core R&D capabilities your firm has, what it must have for success in the target state, and how you will build in and measure those critical capabilities.   I have crafted and been requested to create these “Capability Impact Assessments” and “Capability Transform Frameworks” for a number of firms that are using them to try and avoid the Pharma version of the Dreamliner.  BioPharma R&D must evolve to survive and thrive.  But it needs careful (but bold!) thought and management.  More later as a major “sea change” topic on the home page.

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One Response to Outsourced R&D… a flawed Architecture?

  1. Rick wobbe says:

    The limitations of outsourcing previously in-house activities are well-known. And yet every industry that tries it goes through a period of re-learning things the hard way. It seems to work OK for manufacturing industries far better than it does for highly innovation-dependent industries.

    One researcher who has spent some time looking into this is Iain Cockburn. (see, for example, Cockburn, I. M. Is the Pharmaceutical Industry in a Productivity Crisis? in Innovation Policy and the Economy. 2006. Number 7. The MIT Press.) From his work, I think the pharma/biotech headlong rush into disaggregating and distributing the R&D is probably on the reckless side.


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