Case | HBS Case Collection | January 1998 (Revised May 1999)

General Scanning, Inc. (A)

by H. Kent Bowen, Sean McClenaghan and Charles Tillen


General Scanning, Inc. was founded by Jean Montagu and Pierre Brosens, two MIT mechanical engineers with an interest in developing innovative products based on the early application of lasers. They invented proprietary technology for laser beam positioning and scanning for the company's products. General Scanning was organized as an engineering job shop and production job--that is, they built customized products to order. As it grew in size and revenues, the company hadto reconsider its company objectives. Wes Davis was hired as president with the charter to change the company from a component producer for OEMs to an end-user systems builder. Davis had some ideas about how to develop more robust products, and he reorganized the company along two major product lines: optics and recorders. Several years later, however, profits had not improved appreciably and the direction of the firm was unclear.

Keywords: Transition; Entrepreneurship; Management Practices and Processes; Product Development; Strategic Planning; Research and Development; Risk and Uncertainty; Commercialization; Manufacturing Industry;


Bowen, H. Kent, Sean McClenaghan, and Charles Tillen. "General Scanning, Inc. (A)." Harvard Business School Case 698-036, January 1998. (Revised May 1999.)