Essays on Research And Development In The Commercial Printing Industry: R.R. Donnelley Research Paper

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The paper "Research And Development In The Commercial Printing Industry: R.R. Donnelley" is a worthy example of a business research paper. The company R. R. Donnelley, based in Chicago, is a relatively large company within the commercial printing industry. Although the company has diversified interests, it is the commercial printing aspect that is of interest to the current report, along with the time and energy spent by the firm on research and development (R& D). The amount of funding a company gives to this department is often dictated by external circumstances such as cost effectiveness and competitive pressure.

Since R. R. Donnelly is in a very competitive industry in which there is a lot of dynamic change (even the medium of paper printing has recently been threatened by online content), it stands to reason that the company would be devoting a lot of effort to research and development. In fact, this is the case. This report looks at the company in terms of its R& D activities, clearly identifying these activities, looking at the company functions associated with research and development, and focusing on R& D as it relates to the design of products and production process.

The main focus of this research is to look at whether or not it is really important to include what R& D has accomplished at this firm as newsworthy, in terms of developments which actually make a difference. R. R. Donnelly, according to existing reportage on the issue of its research and development efforts, has taken a proactive stance in response to the dynamic nature of the commercial printing industry today. This means that the company’ s leadership has taken a strong line in terms of changing the company to merge with evolving technologies, and finding new ways to get content to the user.

The main question faced by the company’ s leadership today is how to integrate new technology that will be able to give the customer better, quicker, and more effective service. The company has shown itself able to take advantage of various evolutionary, revolutionary and strategic technologies in order to help the relationship with the company, including collaborative on-line proofing, digital photography, integrated dryer/afterburner/chill roll combos, gapless adoption, and 2X cylinder engraving.

“ Our in-house bindery is available 24 hours-a-day, 7 days a week, to deliver even your largest jobs on time. Through the RR Donnelley network and our partnerships with preferred local vendors, all of your finishing, kitting, and mailing requirements will be successfully fulfilled” (RR, 2009). This positive attitude has kept the company a leader in its industry of commercial printing, and the company has used this position to push innovation. Since the company has interests worldwide, it behooves R. R. Donnelly management to take a proactive stance towards the technological side of R& D in order to maintain competitive.

For example, if there is a change in printing technology, such as the development of a new type of laser printer, the company is going to have to immediately respond to this change on a worldwide basis, and offer a mailer or a paper product that exactly matches this new turn in technology. This makes the role of R& D even more vital, because there is a lot of synching and matching that the company has to do, not just with the customer, but with institutions like the US Postal Service, and companies worldwide.

As a result, “ The Digital Solutions group includes Donnelley’ s Research and Development organization, a group of 80 engineers/scientists specializing in developing groundbreaking digital imaging and printing technologies, with over 900 patents in the printing/imaging arena” (Schneider, 2009). This multiplicity of patents shows the dynamism of the company when it comes to approaching R& D as a proactive endeavor. To maintain its competitive advantage, the company R. R. Donnelly must continue to be dynamic and proactive in terms of keeping its priorities set and an eye on the future.

Based on internal press releases and other sources, this seem to verily be the case with the company, as it evinces future priorities including improving ergonomics within the internal manufacturing process, automated systems that provide a more attractive product as well as an easier and more efficient workplace. Integrated systems is also a watch-phrase at the company in terms of its future R& D plans. There is a strong sense in company literature that R. R. Donnelly is attempting to position itself as an agent of change rather than a reactionary to change.

When there is a major sea change in an industry, also known as a paradigm shift, often the competitors within this industry (in this case the commercial printing industry, changed by the internet), scramble to take ownership of the change, rather than seeming to have to scramble to come up with a reaction. It may be that the former reaction, in terms of owning change dynamically through more attention to R& D efforts, is more effective than the latter, which may be more cost-effective, but also rather unrealistic in terms of keeping a competitive edge in the industry.

According to executives at R. R. Donnelly, “ The shotgun approach to print media is gone. Business people now run the business and demand the highest ROI for their media dollar. We need to prove the effectiveness of our communications technologies” (qtd. Donnelly, 2009). This statement shows a very proactive approach to change, which seems to signify that R& D will remain a major focus of the company into the challenge of the future.


Donnelly exec prioritizes R&D requirements (2009). 

Mailer design and layout (2009).

M Schneider—Biography (2009).

RR Donnelly—Finishing. (2009)

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