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

  • 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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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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  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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