Inderscience Publishers

The social construction of an organisational field: the case of biotechnology

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The emergence of a new industry is not due solely to the resource endowments and competences of new firms, but is also tied to the creation of an organisational field that provides a supportive infrastructure for industry development. Biotechnology is a rapidly-growing new field, particularly in the USA, where the fast transfer of knowledge from universities to science-based firms has led to the creation of a common technological community, which further diffuses both scientific news and organising skills. Drawing on a case study of tPA, the clot-busting drug for heart attacks developed by Genentech, I show how the 'open architecture' of biotech firms facilitates product development. However, the lack of a well-developed governance structure, with common rules and understandings, with respect to regulatory oversight and patent protection poses considerable risks and dampens further industry development.

Keywords: biotechnology, technological innovation, Genentech, tissue plasminogen activator, industry evolution, product development, governance, institutional rules

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