Corning Incorporated (A): Reinventing New Business Development

By Robert Burgelman, Lyn Denend
2008 | Case No. SM167A

Throughout its history, Corning Incorporated had maintained a strong dedication to technology and innovation, committing approximately four to six percent of its annual sales to research, development, and engineering (RD&E) until the late 1990s when this figure climbed to 10 percent. Even when the company was faced with severe financial challenges in the early 2000s by a crash in the telecommunications industry, its largest business segment, Corning saw investment in innovation- and particularly in new business development- as its road to recovery. While other companies might have slashed their RD&E budgets in a desperate effort to regain profitability, Corning increased and formalized the amount of time, money, and resources it dedicated to the identification of potentially large new businesses. As the company emerged from its financial crisis, management set a goal to double Corning’s rate of innovation with the objective of launching two to four significant new businesses each decade. To accomplish its ambitious goals, Corning created an organization called Strategic Growth. The purpose of this new team was to collaborate with corporate research to identify and develop new, large (approximately $0.5 billion), and profitable business opportunities. Under the leadership of Dr. Mark Newhouse, a Corning senior vice president, Strategic Growth was more than three years into its charter by late 2007. Although the group had realized many accomplishments since its inception, the question facing Newhouse, his team, and Corning’s executives was how well the company’s innovative approach to organic growth was working. This case describes the Strategic Growth organization, its process, and its challenges.

This material is available for download by current Stanford GSB students, faculty, and staff, as well as Stanford GSB alumni. For inquires, contact the Case Writing Office. Download