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Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility and Orphan Drug Development: Insights from the US and the EU Biopharmaceutical Industry

Listed author(s):
  • Olga Bruyaka


  • Hanko Zeitzmann


  • Isabelle Chalamon


  • Richard Wokutch


  • Pooja Thakur


Registered author(s):

    In recent years, the biopharmaceutical industry has seen an increase in the development of so-called orphan drugs for the treatment of rare and neglected diseases. This increase has been spurred on by legislation in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere designed to promote orphan drug development. In this article, we examine the drivers of corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities in orphan drug markets and the extent to which biopharmaceutical firms engage in these activities with a strategic orientation. The unique context of orphan drugs constitutes a research opportunity to test the applicability of existing theoretical perspectives on CSR and strategic CSR. Using Schwartz and Carroll’s (Bus Ethics Q, 13(4):503–530, 2003 ) three-domain approach to CSR and the literature on strategic CSR as a theoretical background, we employ a combination of semi-structured interviews and a quantitative website content analysis to study practices of biopharmaceutical firms in the United States and European Union. Our findings show that both US- and EU-based companies engaged in orphan drugs development perceive their involvement as a responsible business activity beyond the economic dimension of CSR. However, for the majority of these companies their CSR activities do not qualify as strategic according to the criteria established in the literature. We also find significant differences between larger and smaller firms in their use of CSR. Based on these findings, we make several suggestions regarding orphan drug legislation and other measures that might help firms exploit strategic CSR benefits. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

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    Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Business Ethics.

    Volume (Year): 117 (2013)
    Issue (Month): 1 (September)
    Pages: 45-65

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:117:y:2013:i:1:p:45-65
    DOI: 10.1007/s10551-012-1496-y
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    1. Rzakhanov, Zaur, 2008. "Regulatory policy, value of knowledge assets and innovation strategy: The case of the Orphan Drug Act," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 673-689, May.
    2. Ted Fuller & Yumiao Tian, 2006. "Social and Symbolic Capital and Responsible Entrepreneurship: An Empirical Investigation of SME Narratives," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 67(3), pages 287-304, September.
    3. Carroll, Archie B., 1991. "The pyramid of corporate social responsibility: Toward the moral management of organizational stakeholders," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 39-48.
    4. Eng Cheah & Wen Chan & Corinne Chieng, 2007. "The Corporate Social Responsibility of Pharmaceutical Product Recalls: An Empirical Examination of U.S. and U.K. Markets," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 76(4), pages 427-449, December.
    5. Morgan Miles & Linda Munilla & Jenny Darroch, 2006. "The Role of Strategic Conversations with Stakeholders in the Formation of Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 69(2), pages 195-205, December.
    6. Moors, Ellen H.M. & Faber, Jan, 2007. "Orphan drugs: Unmet societal need for non-profitable privately supplied new products," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 336-354, April.
    7. Donald S. Siegel & Donald F. Vitaliano, 2007. "An Empirical Analysis of the Strategic Use of Corporate Social Responsibility," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(3), pages 773-792, 09.
    8. Schwartz, Mark S. & Carroll, Archie B., 2003. "Corporate Social Responsibility: A Three-Domain Approach," Business Ethics Quarterly, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(04), pages 503-530, October.
    9. Lazonick, William & Tulum, Öner, 2011. "US biopharmaceutical finance and the sustainability of the biotech business model," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(9), pages 1170-1187.
    10. Leisinger, Klaus M., 2005. "The Corporate Social Responsibility of the Pharmaceutical Industry: Idealism without Illusion and Realism without Resignation," Business Ethics Quarterly, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(04), pages 577-594, October.
    11. Ulrike Gelbmann, 2010. "Establishing strategic CSR in SMEs: an Austrian CSR quality seal to substantiate the strategic CSR performance," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(2), pages 90-98.
    12. Yin, Wesley, 2008. "Market incentives and pharmaceutical innovation," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 1060-1077, July.
    13. Linda O’Riordan & Jenny Fairbrass, 2008. "Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): Models and Theories in Stakeholder Dialogue," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 83(4), pages 745-758, December.
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