On Jan 4/10, Northrop Grumman Corp. announced that it would be moving its corporate headquarters from Los Angeles, CA to the Washington, DC area. The new corporate office will include approximately 300 people, and the firm plans to complete its location search by spring 2010, and open the new corporate office by summer 2011.
In response, the Washington Post’s Steve Pearlstein pens “When aerospace is under Washington’s wing,” which sees the move in a surprisingly negative light.
“While all this is great for the Washington economy, I wonder, however, whether it’s really good for America.” He notes that the firm already has a major presence in Rosslyn, VA near Capitol Hill, and sees the move as indicative of a larger change within America’s aerospace industry. Pearlstein argues that the American aerospace and defense industry is taking fewer risks, appointing different kinds of people to leadership positions, and coming to focus on the political challenges and processes as much as, if not more than, the engineering. It’s a charge echoed by Aviation Week’s Anselmo & Velocci in their recent article “CEO Class of 2010.”
While Northrop Grumman will retain over 30,000 employees in California, Pearlstein wonders if being far away from most of the key people who design and produce its non-ship platforms will have a negative long-term impact on the firm. The contrary view is expressed by a former executive:
“They’ve forgotten what made us great… If you really valued innovation, if you cared about quality and reliability and systems engineering, then you’d say: ‘Don’t come to Washington. Stay close to the people who are actually designing and producing. Challenge them, inspire them, lead them. The rest will take care of itself.’ “