Heavy spending on R&D often leads to growth and prosperity. But not always. Take a look at past leaders in BUSINESS WEEK's rankings of R&D per employee (excluding biotech companies, whose figures are inflated by drug-trial expenses). Company R&D per Employee XONICS Des Plaines, Ill. 1984: $92,347 Socked by price-cutting, the maker of X-ray gear filed for Chapter 11 in 1984, making its top spot in the BW rankings a statistical anomaly. In 1985, it was bought by Allied Products for less than $5 million in cash and stock. SOFTWARE PUBLISHING Santa Clara, Calif. 1985: $33,914 The maker of Harvard Graphics presentation software 1991: $78,109 diversified unsuccessfully and lost share to Lotus, Microsoft, and others. It's refocusing on Harvard Graphics spinoffs after big losses. TRANSITRON ELECTRONIC Woburn, Mass. 1986: $66,450 Founded in the 1950s as one of the first high-tech companies along suburban Boston's Route 128, Transitron found success transitory. Heavy debts caused by failed ventures in integrated circuits forced it to dissolve the year it made No. 1--another statistical anomaly. CHIPS & TECHNOLOGIES San Jose, Calif. 1987: $48,000 C&T thrived in the 1980s as the first company to develop 1988: $60,828 a set of chips for personal computer clonemakers. But 1989: $67,373 once others figured out how to clone PC chips, C&T went 1990: $68,456 into a swoon. It has regained profitability by focusing on 1992: $86,137 graphics-display chips for laptops. S3 Santa Clara, Calif. 1993: $80,132 S3 is booming as a creator of multimedia chips for personal 1994: $82,548 computers. Compaq Computer recently announced it would use S3's accelerator chips to deliver TV-quality video on PCs for sale this Christmas.
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