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Title: Institutional configurations and access to critical resources : a comparative study of the innovation strategies of British and Dutch dedicated biotechnology firms
Author: Di Vito, Lorraine
ISNI:       0000 0004 2681 5128
Awarding Body: The University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2009
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This PhD research is framed in the comparative capitalism literature and investigates how entrepreneurs in the pharmaceutical biotechnology industry acquire financial resources and management expertise from their national institutional frameworks. Institutional theory generally claims that given the variety of national institutional frameworks firms adopt strategies that complement the inherent institutional advantages of their respective institutional environments. Many studies confirm that particular institutional frameworks encourage specific innovation patterns (Almeida and Kogut, 1999; Casper 2007; Casper and Murray, 2005; Casper and Whitley, 2004; Saxenian, 1994; Whitley, 1999); however much less attention has been given to understanding the affects that individual firms have on changing and recombining institutional advantages to create alternative paths (Crouch, 2005). The perceived success of the US biotech industry, and especially the Silicon Valley model (Casper, 2007; Saxenian, 1994) has stood out as an example to other nations and provided a blueprint to jumpstart an industry. Yet, the question that continues to be raised is: can national economies that have fundamentally different institutional environments orchestrate the Silicon Valley model through policy? What happens to firms and institutions when policy initiatives encourage innovation strategies that are incoherent with their national systems? And what kinds of adjustments do firms make to compensate for the shortcomings in the system? Focusing on British and Dutch dedicated biotechnology firms (OBFs), this research offers insight into several aspects of (pharmaceutical) biotechnology entrepreneurship. First, the idea of a 'purely' radical biotechnology industry is challenged and 'typical' business models are identified distinguishing between the level of uncertainty in these business models and the level of appropriability risk. The findings show that there are varying levels of technological uncertainty in DBF business models and that firms in institutional contexts that constrain access to critical resources use these models as a 'growth path' from relatively low-risk strategies to relatively high-risk strategies. The main fmdings show that there is a relationship between the type of business model and the type of fmancing path followed. In addition, the type of financing path followed is contingent on the capabilities and experience of the founding management team. For example, British DBFs that originated from industry environments and had highly experienced founding management teams and executive board members bypassed venture capital and raised external financing through public equity exclusively. In contrast, the Dutch cases show how firms, faced with constraints in the financial and labour systems, create alternative paths in order to follow high-risk innovation strategies. In terms of financial resources, Dutch DBFs use international sources to secure financing. In terms of managerial expertise, Dutch founders struggle to acquire the appropriate managerial expertise due to the lack of a robust social network that facilitates the movement of labour. Dutch founders, therefore, rely primarily on their own skills to fulfil various roles of a management team for a much longer time than their British counterparts.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available