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To lobby or to partner? Explaining the shifting political strategies of biopharmaceutical industry associations in South Africa and India

Papaioannou, T   Watkins, A   Mugwagwa, J   Kale, D

Development Studies Association Annual Conference 2014


November 1 2014

The role of industry associations in shaping policy and regulatory environments through various lobbying activities is well established, both in the academic literature and within the context of developed capitalistic economies. In most cases, while such activities are deemed essential and effective from an industry perspective, they also carry negative connotations connected to narrow rent seeking and the pursuit of special interests which run counter to the public good and which often bypass democratic processes. This paper argues, however, that in developing countries, particular historical trajectories and a lack of institutional capacities is gradually shifting industry associations away from pure, often ineffective lobbying activities, to a new political approach that emphasises partnering with government and other organisations in the pursuit of not only narrow industry objectives, but also broader economic and development aims. Using South Africa and India as case studies, and drawing on in-depth interviews with key stakeholders and the analysis of secondary data and policy outcomes, this paper examines and explains the changing functions of biopharmaceutical industry associations and related umbrella organisations in these two countries, looking at both differences and similar trends. Key to this explanation are historical transitions to greater pluralism, prolonged tensions between domestic firms and MNCs, and a long-standing disconnect between industry and government which has been characterised by opposing aims and objectives, industry and government fragmentation, and a lack of institutional capacities for collaboration toward industry growth and broader economic development. In doing so, this paper looks to broaden our understanding of industry associations as potential agents of development and raises further questions regarding industry intent and actions, the potential of public private partnerships, and the role of industry associations as effective intermediaries.

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