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ERIC Number: ED505510
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Oct
Pages: 72
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
History of Physicists in Industry. Final Report
Anderson, R. Joseph; Butler, Orville R.
Center for History of Physics of the American Institute of Physics
This project is the first systematic study of the organizational structure, communications patterns, and archival records of industrial physicists in the U.S., and it provides general guidelines for understanding and documenting their work. The study confirms that the organization and management of industrial R&D is volatile, changing in response to economic cycles, new managers and management philosophies, and a variety of other factors. It also confirms that historically valuable records that document R&D are at risk and, in fact, are often scattered and lost. The report is divided into two parts. Part I describes the recent history of research and development at the 15 companies in the study. Part II describes the archival findings of the study, including communication patterns and organizational structure relating to records and documentation, and it briefly describes information management programs at the 15 laboratories at 3M, Agilent Technologies, Corning, Eastman Kodak, Exxon Mobil, Ford, General Atomics, General Electric, Honeywell, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Lucent Technologies Bell Laboratories, Raytheon, Texas Instruments, and Xerox. Part I traces the shifting funding and organizational structures of industrial research at the 15 corporations since World War II. The funding and organizational structure of R&D have undergone radical changes, mainly since the 1980s. The authors found a strong emphasis on development over research, but that relationship remains constantly changing. Physicists noted transformations in the nature of their work since World War II and particularly in the last twenty to thirty years. Those changes included shorter research time frames, shifts in the nature and source of R&D funding and sometimes a shift from knowledge creation to knowledge evaluation and acquisition. Part II surveys the extent of record preservation and the changing nature of records used in industrial research. Company policies regarding research records vary widely. It particularly documents a decline in use of the lab notebook and the absence of an electronic replacement. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 standardized financial and related business records that pubic companies must retain, but it does not cover records that document the R&D process or the resulting intellectual capital. As a result, the preservation of these records remains haphazard. The report analyzes the differing roles of corporate technical libraries and archives and describes academic and public archives where some companies preserve important records. Part II concludes with a list of best practices and recommendations. The following are appended: (1) History of Physicists in Industry Question Set for Senior Scientists; and (2) Records Programs of the Laboratories in the Study. (Contains 191 endnotes.) [This report is based on a study produced and funded by the American Institute of Physics' Center for History of Physics and funded by grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Avenir Foundation, Research Corporation, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and the National Science Foundation.]
Center for History of Physics of the American Institute of Physics. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3165; Fax: 301-209-0882; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: American Institute of Physics, Center for History of Physics