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Competitive Advantage Case Study

Case Title:

Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center: Getting Inventions to the Market

Publication Year : 2006

Authors: Priyanka, Mercy Mathew

Industry: Engineering, Electrical and Electronics


Case Code: CCA0028

Teaching Note: Available

Structured Assignment: Available

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Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center), the research division of Xerox was established in 1970 for the development of 'future technologies'. It pioneered technologies like the Mouse, Personal Computer (PC), Graphical User Interface (GUI), Ethernet, and Laser Printer. But Xerox's management failed to perceive the commercial opportunities in most of these innovations. Short-sightedness on part of the management, communication gap between marketing and research divisions, inappropriate market positioning strategies, ineffective business model, poor technology management, lack of leadership and lack of efforts to protect intellectual property and licensing, resulted in PARC's failure to capitalize on its innovation and in turn it affected Xerox financially. As part of the turnaround of Xerox, PARC was spun-off into a wholly-owned subsidiary of Xerox. Xerox adopted a sharper strategy for the research center to commercialize its latest technologies.

Pedagogical Objectives:

  • To understand the prominence of PARC as a leading technological innovation hub
  • To discuss the failure to commercialise the innovations at PARC
  • To discuss various business strategies adopted by Xerox to commercialise technologies of its research centers
  • To understand the process of commercialisation of technologies and innovations
  • To debate on the economic relevance of spin-offs

Keywords : Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center); Innovation; Commercialisation failure; Commercialisation; Business model; Intellectual property rights; Licensing; Innovation Management Case Study; Product development; Technology management; Leadership; Restructuring; Sponsored research

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