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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Iain Cockburn & Rebecca Henderson & Scott Stern, 1999. "The Diffusion of Science-Driven Drug Discovery: Organizational Change in Pharmaceutical Research," NBER Working Papers 7359, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7359
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ramani, Shyama V., 2002. "Who is interested in biotech? R&D strategies, knowledge base and market sales of Indian biopharmaceutical firms," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 381-398, March.
    2. Leiponen, Aija, . "Essays in the Economics of Knowledge: Innovation, Collaboration, and Organizational Complementarities," ETLA A, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy, number 31.
    3. Tse, Chung Yi, 2002. "The diffusion of knowledge and the productivity and appropriability of R&D investment," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 303-331, February.
    4. 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.
    5. Maurice Cassier & Dominique Foray, 2001. "Économie de la connaissance : le rôle des consortiums de haute technologie dans la production d'un bien public," Économie et Prévision, Programme National Persée, vol. 150(4), pages 107-122.
    6. Josh Lerner & Julie Wulf, 2007. "Innovation and Incentives: Evidence from Corporate R&D," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(4), pages 634-644, November.
    7. Belderbos, Rene & Leten, Bart & Suzuki, Shinya, 2009. "Does Excellence in Academic Research Attract Foreign R&D?," MERIT Working Papers 066, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    8. 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 (IfW).
    9. Robert S. Huckman, 2003. "The Utilization of Competing Technologies Within the Firm: Evidence from Cardiac Procedures," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(5), pages 599-617, May.
    10. 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).
    11. 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.
    12. 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.
    13. Peter Howitt, 2013. "From Curiosity to Wealth Creation: How University Research can Boost Economic Growth," C.D. Howe Institute Commentary, C.D. Howe Institute, issue 383, June.
    14. 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.
    15. 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.
    16. 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.
    17. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production

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