The Decline in Corporate Research: Should We Worry?

The Decline in Corporate Research: Should We Worry?

Friday, March 31, 2017
Duke University's "Duke in DC" Offices

Congressional Briefing
Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Government data and research point to a long decline in US corporate investment in upstream research. How pervasive is this trend across industries, technologies, and firms of different sizes? How does it compare with research spending by the federal government, universities, and companies abroad? Does it reflect less reliance on research, whoever performs it? Is it explained by capital market pressures, global competition, or other factors? Has it contributed to the slowdown in productivity growth? Are there other reasons policymakers should be concerned? If so, what policy levers should they look to—e.g., intellectual property, tax, government R&D spending, or antitrust enforcement?

Speakers included Eduardo Porter, New York Times columnist; Katrine Bosley, Editas Medicine CEO; Bill Raduchel, former AOL CTO; Bill Janeway, Warburg Pincus partner; Eric Toder, Tax Policy Center director; Howard Shelanski, former director OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs; and scholars from Duke, Harvard, Columbia, Carnegie Mellon, and Berkeley.

This program was sponsored by a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

  Agenda   |   Speaker Bios

1st Session: The Evidence

Eduardo Porter, The New York Times


Ashish Arora and Sharon Belenzon,
Duke Fuqua School of Business


2nd Session: Historical and Economic Contexts

1. Historical perspective on corporate R&D
David Hounshell, Carnegie-Mellon University

2. Economic implications of research investments
Carol Corrado, The Conference Board

3. How research and innovation have changed
William Raduchel, Independent Director &
Georgetown McDonough School of Business

3rd Session: Perspectives from IT, Life Sciences, and Materials


Wesley Cohen, Duke Fuqua School of Business


Katrine Bosley, Editas Medicine
Mary Cummings, Duke Pratt School of Engineering
Steve Freilich, Du Pont Central R&D (ret.)
James McGroddy, IBM Research (ret.)
Jeff Smith, McKinsey and Company

4th Session: Panel Discussion on Forces for Change


Bill Janeway, Warburg Pincus & Cambridge University


1. Globalization: Increased competition and increased
    market opportunities
Pian Shu, Harvard Business School

2. Capital markets, risk tolerance, and investment
Shiva Rajgopal, Columbia Business School
Ralph Gomory, IBM & the Alfred P. Sloan Found. (ret.)

5th Session: Policy Options and Trade-offs


James Turner, former Counsel, House Science Comm.


1. Increasing and rebalancing the public
    research portfolios
Stephen Merrill, Duke Law School

2. Tax Policy
Eric Toder, Urban Institute Tax Policy Center

3. Antitrust
Howard Shelanski, Georgetown University Law Center
Michael Katz, UC Berkeley

4. Intellectual property
Arti Rai, Duke Law School