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A Comparison of U.S. and European University-Industry Relations in the Life Sciences

  • Jason Owen-Smith


    (509 CERAS Building, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305-3084)

  • Massimo Riccaboni


    (University of Siena, EPRIS, Via Banchi di Sotto 55, Siena 53100, Italy)

  • Fabio Pammolli


    (University of Florence, DSA, Faculty of Economics, Via Montebello 7, Florence 50123, Italy)

  • Walter W. Powell


    (509 CERAS Building, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305-3084)

We draw on diverse data sets to compare the institutional organization of upstream life science research across the United States and Europe. Understanding cross-national differences in the organization of innovative labor in the life sciences requires attention to the structure and evolution of biomedical networks involving public research organizations (universities, government laboratories, nonprofit research institutes, and research hospitals), science-based biotechnology firms, and multinational pharmaceutical corporations. We use network visualization methods and correspondence analyses to demonstrate that innovative research in biomedicine has its origins in regional clusters in the United States and in European nations. But the scientific and organizational composition of these regions varies in consequential ways. In the United States, public research organizations and small firms conduct R&D across multiple therapeutic areas and stages of the development process. Ties within and across these regions link small firms and diverse public institutions, contributing to the development of a robust national network. In contrast, the European story is one of regional specialization with a less diverse group of public research organizations working in a smaller number of therapeutic areas. European institutes develop local connections to small firms working on similar scientific problems, while cross-national linkages of European regional clusters typically involve large pharmaceutical corporations. We show that the roles of large and small firms differ in the United States and Europe, arguing that the greater heterogeneity of the U.S. system is based on much closer integration of basic science and clinical development.

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Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

Volume (Year): 48 (2002)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 24-43

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Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:48:y:2002:i:1:p:24-43
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  1. Arora, Ashish & Gambardella, Alfonso, 1990. "Complementarity and External Linkages: The Strategies of the Large Firms in Biotechnology," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(4), pages 361-79, June.
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  5. Michael Greenacre, 2008. "Correspondence analysis of raw data," Economics Working Papers 1112, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jul 2009.
  6. Orsenigo, L. & Pammolli, F. & Riccaboni, Massimo, 2001. "Technological change and network dynamics: Lessons from the pharmaceutical industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 485-508, March.
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  8. Albert Link, 1999. "Public/Private Partnerships In The United States," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(2), pages 191-217.
  9. Zucker, Lynne G & Darby, Michael R & Brewer, Marilynn B, 1998. "Intellectual Human Capital and the Birth of U.S. Biotechnology Enterprises," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 290-306, March.
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