The New Idea Labs

As more firms send research to India and China, could the U.S. fall behind?

A decade ago, Whitefield, a remote suburb of Bangalore, made headlines on those rare occasions when gangs of armed bandits burst into homes at night. Today that former stretch of farmland and scattered houses is disturbed only by giant cranes, cement mixers and trucks piled up with white sand. Buildings of glass and steel are rising all over, as Bangalore's fast-expanding outsourcing industry radiates far beyond the city. Perhaps the most impressive spot in Whitefield is the campus of SAP Labs. The main building, with its comfortable sofas and a sunny atrium, is a sumptuous workplace by Indian standards.

But what...

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