I recently finished an excellent history of Bell Labs – The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation, by Jon Gertner. If you’re interested in innovation, I strongly recommend it.
The book raises several enticing lines of questioning. Each deserves a full treatment, so I’ll explore one topic per post over several posts. In these, I’ll try linking Bell Labs’ 20th century lessons with the latest academic research on innovation. For now, here is a brief preview:
There are certainly more themes than these in the book, and many more questions related to R&D that Gertner does not even begin to address. Nonetheless, the text is a terrific jumping-off point for some critical discussions on innovation, with far-reaching implications beyond the narrow context of large corporate R&D.
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Jordan Bell-Masterson is an MBA candidate at the University of Chicago.
Previously, Bell-Masterson worked as an analyst in Research and Policy for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where he provided support for the department's research programs and initiatives.
He also worked on SEO solutions for Cappex.com, an online college search and matching-engine based in Highland Park, Ill., and served his senior year as station manager for the Grinnell College radio station KDIC 88.5 FM.
Bell-Masterson graduated from Grinnell College in 2012 with a dual BA in English and economics, with honors.
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