Colin Barry

Crosley Corporation / Development of the Proximity Fuze (CMC, Friday, Week 8)


U.S. Government asks Crosley Corp. to commercialize the proximity fuze. Should they?

-- Government-funded R&D, no risk
-- In line with core competencies
-- Reputation benefits
-- Improve relationship with government => makes business sense as war approaches
==> Moral responsibility/duty to country? <== No/concerns: - Massive investment in capacity - Tech risk - Relationship w/ gov't => big, demanding customer
==> Ethics of manufacturing war materials? <== I was not touched by the supposed ethical issues. They're not making Agent Orange... "Business" model: government-driven innovation NDRC (independent non-profit intermediary) => Divisions => Sections (labs)
Coordinate R&D with: Universities
Who coordinate manufacturing/assembly with: Private-sector firms

=> Private firms give up some upside
=> Government involvement defrays risk, enables real commitment by private sector
=> Moral imperative/just cause

Fuzes in 1942 = $732
Fuzes in 1945 = $18

Shockingly efficient; incredibly rapid progress from idea to actual product.
Could this work in other industries/sectors? Cleantech?
Our intuition is to say government should leave everything to the private sector. But sometimes other models seem to work very well...