Case | HBS Case Collection | June 2011 (Revised October 2012)

IBM China Development Lab Shanghai: Capability by Design

by Willy Shih, Kamen Bliznashki and Fan Zhao


When IBM shifted from a traditional territory-based multinational organization to what it called a globally integrated enterprise, it established its headquarters for "Growth Markets" in Shanghai and "Established Markets" in New York. This positioned its China Development Labs (CDL) in Shanghai as a key platform for serving growth markets including the BRIC countries and other rapidly developing regions. Though quite young, CDL Shanghai had grown to become one of IBM's largest labs. The case examines IBM's early-mover establishment of its corporate research lab and CDL, and through the examination of three product development vignettes looks at the systematic approach taken to the development of lab personnel and capabilities.

Keywords: Diversification; Corporate Strategy; Global Strategy; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Research and Development; Emerging Markets; Product Development; Information Technology Industry; China;


Shih, Willy, Kamen Bliznashki, and Fan Zhao. "IBM China Development Lab Shanghai: Capability by Design." Harvard Business School Case 611-055, June 2011. (Revised October 2012.)