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Project Teams as Means of Restructuring Research and Development in the Pharmaceutical Industry


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  • Christian Zeller


This paper investigates the strategic and organizational changes which two major Swiss pharmaceutical companies have implemented in order to respond to the challenges related to a slowing of innovation and increasing oligopolistic rivalry. Introducing cross-functional project teams, the companies mainly accelerated the development process. These project teams are overlaying structures which complement the functional and geographical organizational units. Common project teams and steering committees are instruments to manage collaborations between pharmaceutical and biotech companies. This paper argues that project teams change power relations, reflect rationalization efforts and serve to create organizational and cultural proximity which is important to guarantee knowledge flows within and between firms. Cet article examine les changements strategiques et organisationnels mis en oeuvre par deux grandes societes pharmaceutiques suisses afin de relever les defis lies au ralentissement de l'innovation et ala hausse de la concurrence oligopolistique. En mettant en place des equipes de projet multi-fonctionnelles, les societes ont pour la plupart accelere le processus de developpement. Ces equipes de projet constituent des structures qui recouvrent et completent les unites d'organisation fonctionnelles et geographiques. Des equipes de projet et des comites directeurs communs sont des instruments pour administrer la collaboration entre les societes pharmaceutiques et biotechnologiques. Cet article affirme que les equipes de projet influent sur la repartition des pouvoirs, refletent les efforts de rationalisation et servent a creer la proximiteorganisationnelle et culturelle qui est importante afin d'assurer le flux de connaissances intra et interentreprises. Der Artikel untersucht die strategischen und organisatorischen Veranderungen, die zwei wichtige schweizerische Pharmakonzerne implementiert haben, um auf die Herausforderungen des Innovationsdefizits und der verscharften oligopolistischen Rivalitat zu antworten. Mit der Einfuhrung von functions ubergreifenden Projektteams haben die Unternehmen hauptschlich den Entwicklungsprozess beschleunigt. Diese Projektteams sind erganzende Strukturen, die die funktionalen und geographischen Organisationseinheiten-berlagern. Projektteams und gemeinsame Steuerungsgremien sind Instrumente, um die Kooperationen zwischen Pharma- und Biotechunternehmen zu leiten. Der Artikel argumentiert, dass Projektteams die Machtverhaltnisse verandern, organisatorischer Ausdruck von Rationalisierungsmanahmen sind und dazu dienen, organisatorische und kulturelle Nahe zu schaffen. Diese ist wichtig, um die Wissensflusse innerhalb von und zwischen Firmen zu garantieren.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Regional Studies.

Volume (Year): 36 (2002)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 275-289

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Handle: RePEc:taf:regstd:v:36:y:2002:i:3:p:275-289

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Keywords: Pharmaceutical Industry; Project Teams; Restructuring; Research And Development;


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  1. Lundin, Rolf A. & Söderholm, Anders, 1995. "A theory of the temporary organization," Scandinavian Journal of Management, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 437-455, December.
  2. Nightingale, Paul, 2000. "Economies of Scale in Experimentation: Knowledge and Technology in Pharmaceutical R&D," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(2), pages 315-59, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Vincent Mangematin & Khalid Errabi, 2012. "The Determinants Of The Science-Based Cluster Growth: The Case Of Nanotechnologies," Grenoble Ecole de Management (Post-Print) hal-00526701, HAL.
  2. Spielkamp, Alfred & Czarnitzki, Dirk & Rammer, Christian, 2008. "Innovation Success of Non-R&D-Performers: Substituting Technology by Management in SMEs," ZEW Discussion Papers 08-092, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  3. Friedrich Dornbusch & Sidonia von Proff & Thomas Brenner, 2013. "The organizational and regional determinants of inter-regional collaborations – Academic inventors as bridging agents," Working Papers on Innovation and Space 2013-11, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  4. Cuijpers, Maarten & Guenter, Hannes & Hussinger, Katrin, 2011. "Costs and benefits of inter-departmental innovation collaboration," ZEW Discussion Papers 11-003, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  5. Love, James H. & Roper, Stephen & Bryson, John R., 2011. "Openness, knowledge, innovation and growth in UK business services," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(10), pages 1438-1452.
  6. Ana Paula Faria & Natália Barbosa & Vasco Eiriz, 2013. "Firms’ innovation across regions: an exploratory study," NIPE Working Papers 12/2013, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
  7. Dornbusch, Friedrich & Brenner, Thomas, 2013. "Universities as local knowledge hubs under different technology regimes: New evidence from academic patenting," Working Papers "Firms and Region" R6/2013, Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI).
  8. Stephen Roper & James H Love & Priit Vahter, 2012. "The Value Of Design Strategies For New Product Development: Some Econometric Evidence," University of Tartu - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Working Paper Series 85, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Tartu (Estonia).
  9. Gernot Grabher, 2002. "Cool Projects, Boring Institutions: Temporary Collaboration in Social Context," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(3), pages 205-214.
  10. Friedrich Dornbusch & Thomas Brenner, 2013. "Universities as local knowledge hubs under different technology regimes – New evidence from academic patenting," Working Papers on Innovation and Space 2013-10, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  11. Mangematin, V. & Blanco, S. & Deschamp, B. & Genet, C. & Kahane, B., 2006. "Project management : learning by breaking the rules," Working Papers 200604, Grenoble Applied Economics Laboratory (GAEL).


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