Latecomers’ science-based catch-up in transition: the case of the Korean pharmaceutical industry

Hwang, SeongWoong (2015) Latecomers’ science-based catch-up in transition: the case of the Korean pharmaceutical industry. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This thesis investigates the 25-year transitional process of the Korean pharmaceutical industry from its initial focus on the imitative production of generic drugs to the development of new drugs. The catch-up dynamics of latecomer countries in science-intensive industries, such as the pharmaceutical industry, is an overlooked research topic in existing literature on innovation studies. This thesis provides an in-depth analysis of Korea’s science-intensive catch-up and applies an ‘exploration and exploitation’ framework to a latecomer setting and in a novel institutional and market context of the transitional phase.

This thesis argues that the rate of change in the transition from imitating drugs to developing new drugs depends on the institutional and organisational mechanisms that enable a new form of technological learning, termed ‘exploratory learning’. This form of learning is often unfamiliar to firms in latecomer countries, whereas it is necessary for producing innovative drugs. That is, latecomers’ institutional and organisational promotion of exploratory learning is related to a ‘pattern change’ in the previously established institutional and organisational routines associated with imitative learning.

The findings show that the rate of industrial transition in this sector was constrained by the problematic operation of S&T policies promoting key characteristics of exploratory learning, such as high-risk long-term learning as well as dense interactions between a diverse number of innovation actors. The findings also illuminate some latecomer firms’ initial difficulties in managing the new mode of technological learning, and in strategically applying that mode of learning to overcome the barriers to moving through the transitional phase towards producing competitive innovation.

The thesis also suggests that the nature of drugs as integral products, deeply grounded in science, makes it difficult to effectively promote institutional and organisational transformations in favour of exploratory learning.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labour > HD9000 Special industries and trades > HD9665 Pharmaceutical industry
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2015 07:51
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2015 07:51

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