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“Breaking Out of the Innovation Box” by J. Wolpert Case Study

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Updated: Jun 24th, 2021

Introduction

In the 21st century, innovations help distinguish between companies meant to lead the industry and companies who would inevitably fall behind and be forgotten. Companies that manage to sustain innovation over time are those more likely to become successful in the long run. Nevertheless, many companies have adopted an ebb-and-flow approach to innovation – spending large amounts of money on various projects when times are good and curtailing all innovations in times of crisis. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the article written by John D. Wolpert, titled “Breaking out of the Innovation Box,” and assess the viability of his solution to the problem.

Important Facts Surrounding the Case

The article states that most companies in the 1990s did not have a coherent strategy for their R&D, spending on innovations only the amount of money they could afford, not the amount of money necessarily needed in order to effectively produce innovations to conquer and maintain leading positions in the market. As a result, many promising projects are being cut off during crisis periods, along with those that do not have the same amount of potential behind them. As a solution to this problem, Wolpert suggests the concept of “innovation brokers” – agents who would work with other companies under the contract of nondisclosure and enable cooperation and inter-corporate development, which is presented as a safe and riskless way of pooling resources and promote projects that would benefit everyone. As an example, he presents the story of the success of ISIS International, which helped with the development of a new molecule for the oil industry.

Key Issues

The key issue with Wolpert’s proposition is the security of innovative technologies that are being developed through inter-corporate cooperation. He suggests that patents and copyright laws would be sufficient in order to prevent information theft and plagiarism on the part of other companies. However, as it was possible to see in 2018, patent laws and copyright laws alone will not stop companies from information theft. Apple and Samsung are engaging one another in a series of patent disputes that lasts for years. At the same time, the increased number of people involved in project development means a greater risk of exposure, which remains unresolved.

Alternative Solutions

From my perspective, there are two alternative solutions to this dilemma. One solution suggests establishing a fixed budget for innovation, which would not be exceeded during times of economic profit or cut during times of economic turmoil. The presence of such a budget would ensure that key projects would never remain underfunded. The company would be able to continue innovation and research and become more diligent with the projects currently in development. A fixed budget would help avoid wasting money on pointless endeavors.

Another possibility is to form a joint venture with another company conducting research in the same area. Joint ventures typically have much stronger connections that would prevent either company from double-crossing another and ensure secrecy of the project while maintaining the advantage of inter-company cooperation.

Evaluation

If we compare the idea presented in the article with the two alternative solutions presented in this paper, it is possible to notice several strengths and weaknesses to each:

  • Informational headhunting: lower financial expenses, pooled resources, higher risk of corporate espionage.
  • Fixed budget: greater independence, greater information security, lower potential output.
  • Joint ventures: higher innovation output, greater information security, harder to set up.

Optimal Decision

I believe that there is no optimal decision, as every potential solution is geared towards a particular scenario. Depending on the company’s size, financial capabilities, standing, and the criticality of the project, one of three potential strategies would fit the situation the most.

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IvyPanda. (2021, June 24). "Breaking Out of the Innovation Box" by J. Wolpert. https://ivypanda.com/essays/breaking-out-of-the-innovation-box-by-j-wolpert/

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IvyPanda. (2021, June 24). "Breaking Out of the Innovation Box" by J. Wolpert. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/breaking-out-of-the-innovation-box-by-j-wolpert/

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""Breaking Out of the Innovation Box" by J. Wolpert." IvyPanda, 24 June 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/breaking-out-of-the-innovation-box-by-j-wolpert/.

1. IvyPanda. ""Breaking Out of the Innovation Box" by J. Wolpert." June 24, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/breaking-out-of-the-innovation-box-by-j-wolpert/.


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IvyPanda. ""Breaking Out of the Innovation Box" by J. Wolpert." June 24, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/breaking-out-of-the-innovation-box-by-j-wolpert/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. ""Breaking Out of the Innovation Box" by J. Wolpert." June 24, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/breaking-out-of-the-innovation-box-by-j-wolpert/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) '"Breaking Out of the Innovation Box" by J. Wolpert'. 24 June.

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