GE’s Focus on Research

Here is a good article on GE's new research labs. A company with the talent and cash that GE possesses should have no problem cranking out innovative new products.

In a corporate culture as famously quantitative as GE's, managing the vexingly intangible process of innovation will be a challenge. Donnelly, who took over at Niskayuna in 2000, trained for the task during a three-year stint as vice-president for technology operations at GE Medical Systems. In his current post, Donnelly manages a $359 million annual operating budget (up 4.3% from 2002), as well as a 2,300-person global research staff, including 550 at R&D centers in Shanghai, Bangalore (India), and Munich. Industries editor Adam Aston visited Niskayuna to learn more about Donnelly's efforts to upgrade and internationalize GE's R&D.

That's a good point. GE is famously quantitative, and sometimes research takes a while to pay off. Good managers will have a long-term focus, and not cut the research budget if progress is made, but "progress" is often subjective. A numbers focused executive may be quick to cut this part of the budget, but for now I think it is a good move.

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