2. Why corporate R&D functions?
The company wants to make money. It's as simple as that. To do that, you need a product, either a physical object or a service. Basic life cycle for products is well known and documented, so when the product becomes a "dog", it's time to get it replace by a new product that makes money. Some companies get the idea that you need to develop new products to replace the old ones, others don't. You would think that the leaders in all companies had learned the basics in product life cycles, but no.
Basically, there are three ways of getting new products:
1. Make a new version of an existing product in the company portfolio.
2. Come up with something new.
3. Use what others have come up with.
Some will resent the word "steal" when using what others have come up with and call it "inspired" instead. The difference is often settled in court.
The practical aspect of getting the new product made and produced is where the Research and Development comes in. You need some people with the specialized skills for making the new products, and you need to have these people working together to get results. This is not new information, though some people act like it, Howard Hughes and John F. Kennedy used this knowledge long ago, in their respective fields of work.
Some companies claim to have separate research and development divisions and some claim only to have one type. Whichever way you like to put it, you can't have only research or development. It's a nice illusion and I've seen it several places, but is just that: an illusion. Research and development goes hand in hand, it's the nature of the beast. At best you can focus more on one or the other of the two.
So, if you want to stay in business, get an R&D department established, because the money you are going to make in the future comes from that department... If you do it right... Otherwise it's only going to be a vast expense, putting you out of business even faster than doing nothing.
That's why you want your R&D done, based on a strategy. You need to know what you are doing, why you are doing it, how it's done and be able to change the plans when something unforeseen happens, not if; when. Fortunately it isn't as difficult as it sounds, because when you know the what, why and how, you also know how to act when the unforeseen happens.