Buderi, Robert 1954–
Buderi, Robert 1954–
Born September 26, 1954, in Berkeley, CA; son of Fred F. (an importer) and Betty Lou (a social worker) Buderi; married Nancy G. Walser, April 11, 1992; children: Kacey, Robert. Education: University of California, Davis, B.A., 1977; University of Arizona, M.J., 1978. Hobbies and other interests: Basketball, team sports.
Home—Cambridge, MA. Office—Xconomy, 10 Rogers St., Ste. 101, Cambridge, MA 02142; fax: 617-252-0711. Agent—Raphael Sagalyn, 7201 Wisconsin Ave., Ste. 675, Bethesda, MD 20814. E-mail—[email protected]
Editor and author. Daily Republic, Fairfield, CA, reporter of police news, 1977-79; Time Life News Service, San Francisco, CA, and Boston, MA, contributing reporter, 1980-88; contributor to magazines, including Money, 1982-90; Business Week, New York, NY and Boston, technology editor, 1990-92; Upside, San Mateo, CA, columnist, 1998-2000; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Technology Review, Cambridge, MA, contributing editor, 1998, editor-at-large, 2000-02, editor in chief, beginning 2002; MIT's Center for International Studies, research fellow; Xconomy, Cambridge, MA, founder, CEO, editor in chief. Served as consultant to Science at War, a documentary television series broadcast by British Broadcasting Corp., 1997-98. Has served as consultant for two History Channel programs on World War II. Member of advisory board of the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships member selection committee, 1997—, and member of the Visiting Committee for the Humanities, 2000-04, both MIT.
Vannevar Bush fellow, MIT, 1986-87; (with others) National Magazine Award for the Quality Imperative, 1992; Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grants, 1992, and 1996.
The Invention That Changed the World: How a Small Group of Radar Pioneers Won the Second World War and Launched a Technical Revolution, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1996, reprinted as The Invention That Changed the World: The Story of Radar from War and Peace, Abacus (London, England), 1999.
Engines of Tomorrow: How the World's Best Companies Are Using Their Research Labs to Win the Future, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2000.
(With Gregory T. Huang) Guanxi (The Art of Relationships): Microsoft, China, and Bill Gates's Plan to Win the Road Ahead, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2006.
Author of the column "Lab Watch," Upside, 1998-2000. Contributor of articles to magazines, including Atlantic Monthly, Economist, Money, Nature, Newsweek, Science, Sports Illustrated, and Time.
Robert Buderi has been a recognized figure in the field of technology for many years. He is the author of three books on technology and innovation, and he has been the editor of technology publications, including Business Week and MIT's Technology Review. He is the CEO and founder of Xconomy, an online site that provides news and insights for business and technology leaders about the high-tech sector.
Buderi's first book, The Invention That Changed the World: How a Small Group of Radar Pioneers Won the Second World War and Launched a Technical Revolution, provides a history of the development of the microwave ray, its role in World War II, and its influence on modern technology. The majority of the book focuses on radar use in World War II and the extraordinary ways in which radar changed warfare forever, including the development of warfare technologies such as air defense, antisubmarine equipment, and the ability to send bombs to precise locations from far distances. The book also highlights key inventors and implementers of radar and their personal stories, as well as the technological elements of present society that resulted from the development of radar.
In Armed Forces and Society, reviewer Maria Jose Moyano Rasmussen opposed Buderi's assertion that a "small group of pioneers won the second World War." She continued: "To claim that a single technology won the war … surely gives short shrift to the enormous contributions of other technologies…. It also downplays the contributions of sheer mass and brute force." Rasmussen concluded, however, that "even if radar did not win the war single-handedly, Buderi paints a clear picture of unprecedented contributions across the spectrum of warfare." While Major Merrick Krause, like Rasmussen, found problems with the statement in Buderi's title, Krause suggested in the Air & Space Power Chronicles that the book is written in "a style that reads more like a story than a detailed analysis," and that The Invention That Changed the World is "an enjoyable and a rich account of scientific history…. [Buderi] blends his tale of history, civil-military affairs, and human interaction in an entertaining yet not oppressively academic fashion." Expressing a similar opinion of the book, a reviewer pointed out on the CEO Refresher Web site that, "for those whose science and physics are rusty, there are numerous anecdotes, particularly about World War II, that lighten the chapters that are heavier on technology." Booklist's Gilbert Taylor dubbed the book "a diligent, deserving work," and added: "For readers of war or space technology, Buderi puts plenty of flesh on the story's physical framework of wavelengths and azimuths."
In Engines of Tomorrow: How the World's Best Companies Are Using Their Research Labs to Win the Future, Buderi examines the relationship between the use of industrial research in corporate labs and the productivity of such technologically innovative corporations. Buderi interviewed innovators and inventors from top electronic, computer, and telecommunications companies, focusing specifically on the relationship of each corporation's laboratories to its corporate culture. He explains how those corporations that scaled back and restructured their labs in the 1990s, shifting funding from basic research toward research on technologies currently in consumer demand, are the corporations that have thrived. Buderi asserts that the best corporations never stopped researching, and that reorganizing laboratories was an essential step for these technological giants, which have dramatically increased productivity as a direct result. These corporations—IBM, Lucent, GE, Intel, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Xerox, Siemens, and NEC—are currently integrating production and marketing in each step of the process, resulting in faster production of more consumer-tailored products.
Engines of Tomorrow also provides extensive detail on the history of industrial and economic research, illustrating corporate culture's role through time. He also advocates the need for a better understanding of collective corporate histories and how those histories have affected current corporate economics. Buderi stresses the recognition of scientists and inventors as vital components of corporate culture. One American Scientist reviewer found the historical narrative and analysis of Engines of Tomorrow to be "gripping." Although Wade Rousch, in a review of the book for the Technology Review, pointed out that the author "sometimes falls into the mixed metaphors endemic in the business world," Rousch admitted that this was a small complaint, stating overall that "Buderi's narrative is flowing and lucid, and contains just enough detail to satisfy historians without overwhelming lay readers."
Buderi's third book is Guanxi (The Art of Relationships): Microsoft, China, and Bill Gates's Plan to Win the Road Ahead, which he coauthored with Gregory T. Huang, an editor for New Scientist. The book provides a case study of Microsoft Research Asia, the company's large research lab in Beijing, which opened in 1998. The lab was only the second center for high-level research opened by the company outside the United States; the first was in Cambridge, England. The authors did most of their reporting for the book in Beijing and Redmond, WA, over the course of one year, starting in November 2004, around the same time the lab became the centerpiece of Microsoft's battle against other high-tech competitors, especially Google. At the center of the battle was Kai-Fu Lee, one of the founders of the research lab in Beijing, who had recently left the company to work for Google. His departure led Microsoft to file a lawsuit against Google, which is the subject of one chapter later in the book. However, the vast majority of the book focuses on Microsoft's success in developing guanxi, a Chinese word that means the skillful building of mutually beneficial relationships, a concept that is fundamental to business in China. According to Asia Times's Benjamin Shobert, the book "does a superb job of not only telling us the story of Microsoft's China strategy but, in doing so, arguing that more business executives should look to China for innovation to shape their business, not simply settle for a cost advantage to exploit mature markets, products and technologies." Booklist's Mary Whaley felt that "as China explodes economically, this story of Microsoft's strategy and efforts there make a compelling case study, and this book serves as excellent public relations."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Scientist, July, 2000, review of Engines of Tomorrow: How the World's Best Companies Are Using Their Research Labs to Win the Future, p. 358.
Analog Science Fiction & Fact, January, 2001, Tom Easton, "The Reference Library," review of Engines of Tomorrow, pp. 133-138.
Armed Forces and Society: An Interdisciplinary Journal, spring, 1999, Maria Jose Moyano Rasmussen, review of The Invention That Changed the World:How a Small Group of Radar Pioneers Won the Second World War and Launched a Technical Revolution, pp. 532-534.
Asian Review of Books, August 27, 2006, Paul French, review of Guanxi (The Art of Relationships): Microsoft, China, and Bill Gates's Plan to Win the Road Ahead.
Asia Times, September 2, 2006, Benjamin A. Shobert, review of Guanxi (The Art of Relationships).
Booklist, October 1, 1996, Gilbert Taylor, review of The Invention That Changed the World, p. 312; March 15, 2000, David Rouse, review of Engines of Tomorrow, p. 1305; April 15, 2006, Mary Whaley, review of Guanxi (The Art of Relationships), p. 12.
Business Week, May 22, 2006, review of Guanxi (The Art of Relationships), p. 104.
Dallas Business Journal, August 31, 2001, brief article on Engines of Tomorrow, p. 39.
Economist, June 17, 2006, review of Guanxi (The Art of Relationships), p. 91.
Foreign Affairs, March-April, 1997, Eliot A. Cohen, review of The Invention That Changed the World, p. 179.
Library Journal, April 15, 2006, Caroline Geck, review of Guanxi (The Art of Relationships), p. 86.
New Scientist, July 18, 1998, review of The Invention That Changed the World, p. 47; May 27, 2000, Kazuo Arima, "Fast Forward," review of Engines of Tomorrow, p. 48.
New York Times Book Review, May 3, 1998, review of The Invention That Changed the World, p. 32.
Publishers Weekly, August 26, 1996, review of The Invention That Changed the World, pp. 86-87; April 3, 2000, review of Engines of Tomorrow, p. 72.
Research Technology Management, May-June, 2000, review of Engines of Tomorrow, p. 61; July 1, 2006, review of Guanxi (The Art of Relationships).
Science Books and Films, November, 1999, review of The Invention That Changed the World, p. 273.
Science News, June 24, 2006, review of Guanxi (The Art of Relationships), p. 399; June 16, 2007, review of Guanxi (The Art of Relationships), p. 383.
Sciences, November-December, 1996, Laurence A. Marschall, review of The Invention That Changed the World, p. 39.
Sloan Management Review, spring, 2000, Judith Maas, review of Engines of Tomorrow, p. 105.
Technology Review, May, 2000, Wade Roush, review of Engines of Tomorrow, p. 111.
Times Literary Supplement, January 23, 1998, review of The Invention That Changed the World, p. 36.
ABC Web site,http://www.abc.net.au/ (June 18, 2008), "Robert (Bob) Buderi."
Air & Space Power Chronicles, http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/ (June 18, 2008), review of The Invention That Changed the World.
American Scientist,http://www.americanscientist.org/ (June 18, 2008), "Robert Buderi."
Book Booters Web site,http://www.bookbooters.com/ (June 18, 2008), description of Engines of Tomorrow.
Business Week,http://www.businessweek.com/ (June 18, 2008), "Video Interviews: Robert Buderi" and synopsis of Engines of Tomorrow.
CEO Refresher Web site,http://www.refresher.com/ (June 18, 2008), review of The Invention That Changed the World.
Guanxi Web site,http://www.guanxithebook.com (June 18, 2008).
Naval Industry Partners Web site, http://www.navalindustrypartners.com/ (June 18, 2008), "Robert Buderi, Editor at Large, Technology Review Magazine."
Palm Digital Media Web site, http://www.palmdigitalmedia.com/ (June 18, 2008), "Author: Robert Buderi."
Private Line Web site,http://www.privateline.com/ (June 18, 2008), excerpt from The Invention That Changed the World.
Technology Review,http://www.technologyreview.com/ (June 18, 2008), press release, "Technology Review Names Robert Buderi as Editor."
Tech Talk,http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/tt/ (June 18, 2008), "Buderi Named Editor of Technology Review."
Xconomy,http://www.xconomy.com/ (June 18, 2008), author profile.