Managing R&D activities in the Italian red biotech industry. A comparison between Italian independent firms and multinational companies
This paper aims at analysing the main features of R&D activities carried out by the Italian biotech companies. The proposed contribution can be ascribed to the massive stream of research related to the reconfiguration of the value chain activities at the international level. Such a topic has become more and more actual because of both the markets globalisation and diffusion of networked architectures within internationalised companies (see, among others, Bartlett 1986; Bartlett and Goshal 1987, 1990; Bartlett, Doz and Hedlund 1990; Forsgren 1993; Forsgren and Holm 1993; Forsgren, Holm and Johanson 1991, 1992; Forsgren and Johanson 1992; Forsgren and Pedersen 1998; Hedlund 1979, 1980, 1986, 1994; Hedlund and Ridderstrale 1994; Hedlund and Rolander 1990; Lipparini and Fratocchi 1999). Within such a stream of research, we decided to focus the attention on the biotech industry, due to its specific features, that deeply influence both the strategic behaviour of firms and the economic environment of the countries where they operate.Keeping in mind the different types of biotech firms operating at global level, we have decided to focus our attention to a less heterogeneous population. In so doing, we narrowed the analysis to the red biotech segment (that is health care biotech companies which develop drugs and diagnostics), because of its absolute predominance both in Italy (73% of enterprises, 94% of total revenue and 86% of investments1) and at worldwide level (51% of EU firms and 60% of USA ones2). First of all we collected data for a sample of companies operating in the Italian red biotech industry. Particularly, we focused on R&D activities: we tried to quantify its extent, to understand where they are located (domestically or abroad) and the role played by alliances/cooperation with -in and -out the industry. More specifically, in order to reach the goals above described, attention was paid to the aptitude of the Italian country-system to attract investments from abroad. In doing so, we studied separately the Italian independent firms and MNCs. Analysing the peculiarities of how Italian independent firms and MNCs manage R&D activities, we tried to find out the existence of a different approach to R&D investments. The paper is structured in four main sections. In the first one, the main relevant features of biotech firms are discussed and the literature background presented. The second paragraph deals with sample and methodology description. In the third section, the main results regarding the analysis of R&D activities carried out by the red Italian biotech companies are presented. The conclusions complete the paper.
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