Case | HBS Case Collection | November 2002 (Revised June 2003)

Corning, Inc.: Technology Strategy in 2003

by Rebecca Henderson


Corning, Inc. has a 150-year history of building a strategy around innovation. Founded as a glass manufacturer in 1851, the company quickly established itself as a maker of specialty glass products and over the next 100 years diversified into light bulbs, television, cookware, silicones, medical products, and, finally, optical fiber. As the telecommunications industry boomed in the late 1990s, the optical fiber business boomed with it, and Corning's stock hit record highs. The firm made more than $9 billion worth of acquisitions in fiber and photonics (acquiring more than $6 billion worth of goodwill in the process) before the crash hit. Corning's stock collapsed, and in 2002 the company faced serious operating challenges. Designed to be used as an opening case in a course on technology strategy. Outlines the history of innovation at Corning, stressing the company's history of "patient money" and long-term commitment to technology. Briefly summarizes the firm's recent history and then the challenge that faces the firm's chief technology officer in seeking to justify spending on research and development.

Keywords: Technology; Strategy; Innovation Strategy; Situation or Environment; Research and Development; Consumer Products Industry; United States;


Henderson, Rebecca. "Corning, Inc.: Technology Strategy in 2003." Harvard Business School Case 703-440, November 2002. (Revised June 2003.)