Arthur D. Little
Nowadays, R&D (Research & Development) is an indispensable part of business in the 21st century. But did you know that R&D began in the late-1800s?
It was then that Arthur D. Little began planting the seeds of what was to be the first consulting firm to provide R&D services to improve the private industry. The R&D consulting firm of Arthur D. Little Inc. has kept its leadership position to this day.
Arthur D. Little – Advice As a Marketable Service
At the dawn of the 20th century, industrialists and financiers in America were still reluctant to take a risk on business opportunities offered by new technology. But their European counterparts were quick to seize the advantage and set up operations in the US.
This prompted Little to aggressively campaign for the nation’s leaders to support the fledgling US chemical industry. While at MIT, Little had majored in chemistry (chemical engineering was, as yet, unheard of). And his stint as his college’s newspaper editor gave him the skills to be an effective spokesman for industrial research and an advocate for the education of chemical engineers.
He also put up a firm that combined R&D and expert advice – a revolutionary concept at the time – and marketed them as a valuable service indispensable in a booming industrial era.
Originally established as Little & Walker in 1900, the firm became Arthur D. Little Inc. in 1909. It became the biggest private industrial R&D lab in America, focusing first on paper technology then moving onto petroleum and other applied sciences. Eventually, the firm encompassed various aspects of business management as well.
As of 2005, Arthur D. Little Inc. was employing around 1000 individuals in 30 offices across the globe. Each year, the firm oversees an estimated 2000 projects in 60 countries.
Aside from its original expertise in chemicals, it has also built a notable reputation for reliable R&D in telecommunications. The firm is also known as an energy-and-utilities and automotive consultant. It has even created a consulting niche in the public sector and healthcare. Dr. Arthur D. Little’s involvement in the company he founded ended only with his death in 1935.
The Arthur D. Little Quick Bio
Full Name: Arthur Dehon Little
Birthdate: 1863 – 1935
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts
Company: Arthur D. Little Inc. (ADL)
Key Success Traits: Saw risks on new technology as opportunities; loved education and learning; a man ahead of his time.
Arthur D. Little Inc. and its founder played vital roles in R&D for the production of acetone, smoke filters, word processors, synthetic penicillin, and even NASDAQ.
His love for education once made Dr. Little go back to MIT to teach students papermaking technology. He was also a part of the chemistry and chemical engineering departments’ visiting committees and an MIT Corp. member for life.