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The Diffusion of Science-Driven Drug Discovery: Organizational Change in Pharmaceutical Research

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  • Iain Cockburn
  • Rebecca Henderson
  • Scott Stern

Abstract

Recent work linking the adoption of key organizational practices to productivity raises an important question: if adoption increases productivity so dramatically, why does adoption across an industry take so long? This paper explores this question in the context of one particularly interesting practice, the adoption of science driven drug discovery by the modern pharmaceutical industry. Over the past two decades, the established pharmaceutical industry has slowly shifted towards a more science-oriented drug discovery: (a) adopters experienced substantially higher rates of R&D after the late 1970s and (b) the rate of adoption across the industry was extremely slow. Motivated by the apparent contradiction between large boosts in performance and slow rates of adoption, this paper characterizes the sources of differences in rates of adoption between 1980 and 1993. The principal finding is that adoption of a science-oriented research approach was a function of initial conditions, or subject to 'state dependence': some firms simply began the sample period at a much higher level of science orientation. Moreover, while these effects attenuated over time, our empirical results suggest that it took more than ten years before adoption was unrelated to initial conditions. In addition, consistent with theories developed in the context of technology adoption, we find that relative diffusion rates depend on the product market positioning of firms. More surprisingly, adoption rates are seperately driven by the composition of sales within the firm. This latter finding suggests the potential importance of differences among firms in terms of the internal structure of power and attention, an area which has received only a small amount of theoretical attention.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7359.

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Date of creation: Sep 1999
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7359

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Cited by:
  1. Lee Branstetter & Reiko Aoki, 2005. "Is Academic Science Raising Innovative Productivity? Theory and Evidence from Firm-Level Data," Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series d05-86, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  2. Josh Lerner & Julie Wulf, 2006. "Innovation and Incentives: Evidence from Corporate R&D," NBER Working Papers 11944, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jacqueline Senker, 2006. "Biotechnology Alliances in the European Pharmaceutical Industry: Past, Present and Future," SPRU Working Paper Series 137, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
  4. repec:dgr:unumer:2009066 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Aija Leiponen, 2005. "Core complementarities of the corporation: organization of an innovating firm," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(6), pages 351-365.
  6. Cassiman, Bruno & Veugelers, Reinhilde & Zuniga, Pluvia, 2007. "Science linkages and innovation performance: An analysis on CIS-3 firms in Belgium," IESE Research Papers D/671, IESE Business School.
  7. Moritz Müller & Robin COWAN & Geert Duysters & Nicolas JONARD, 2009. "Knowledge Structures," Working Papers of BETA 2009-24, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
  8. Beath, John & Owen, Robert F. & Poyago-Theotoky, Joanna & Ulph, David, 2003. "Optimal incentives for income-generation in universities: the rule of thumb for the Compton tax," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(9), pages 1301-1322, November.
  9. Lee Branstetter & Kwon Hyeog Ug, 2004. "The Restructuring Of Japanese Research And Development: The Increasing Impact Of Science On Japanese R&D," Discussion papers 04021, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
  10. Lee Branstetter & Yoshiaki Ogura, 2005. "Is Academic Science Driving a Surge in Industrial Innovation? Evidence from Patent Citations," NBER Working Papers 11561, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Cassiman, Bruno & Veugelers, Reinhilde & Zuniga, Pluvia, 2009. "Diversity of science linkages and innovation performance: some empirical evidence from Flemish firms," Economics Discussion Papers 2009-30, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

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