Xerox PARC: Innovation without Profit

Xerox PARC: Innovation without Profit

To understand the conflicting structure and culture issues involved in managing innovation

PARC was set up in 1970 as the research arm of Xerox Corp, to invent the technology of the future. In a little over 30 years since it was set up, till it was incorporated as a Xerox subsidiary in 2002, PARC invented a number of products which revolutionized the computer industry. The prototype of the modern PC, local area networks, Graphical user interface, commercial application of the mouse, page description languages, laser printers, etc, all took birth at PARC. However, despite its scientific excellence, Xerox failed to capitalize on the commercial potential of most of these innovations. Analysts have said that this could have been because of the casual and flexible culture that prevailed at PARC.                                                           

This flexibility allowed people to pursue projects of their interest with no concern for commercial value. Another important reason could have been the distance of PARC from the corporate headquarters, cut off from the competition of the corporate world. It was also suggested that there was a basic mismatch between the objectives and working methods of PARC scientists and the people at the corporate office. In the early 21st century PARC was spun-off as an independent subsidiary of Xerox. Xerox had also set up some subsidiaries to help commercialize the inventions that came out of PARC.


  1. To understand the conflicting structure and culture issues involved in managing innovation successfully – promoting creative thinking to develop innovative ideas and products, and ensuring the discipline to commercialize these ideas and products successfully

  2. To study the ways in which an organization may break away from its past of lost opportunities and restructure itself to meet the needs of the future

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