Fab-lite exports brains, says Harvard professor

American semiconductor companies are exporting their brains, says the author of the Innovators Dilemma, Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen.

There’s only one exception – Intel, says Christensen.

Outsourcing fab is one of the ways US chip-makers are handing over a vital technological competitive differentiator, argues Christensen.

“The problem lies with the business schools,” says Christensen. He says that their insistence on measuring companies’ success by financial metrics like ROI, ROE RONA etc, means that companies are sacrificing their long-term competitiveness for short term financial gains.

Foundries are taking over more and more of the knowledge of the manufacturing processes, argues Christensen, and gaining an advantage in process engineering over US companies.

In Europe, Malcolm Penn, CEO of Future Horizons, has been arguing for several years that the move to go fabless or fab-lite by companies which used to have their own fabs is a long-term disastrous route for the semiconductor industry.

Only Intel, argues Christensen, has resisted the influence of the Wall Street analysts and continued on its own way with a commitment to maintaining superiority in manufacturing technology.

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