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Is risk regulation a strategic influence on decision making in the biotechnology industry?

Chataway, J   Tait, J

Agriculture and Human Values   10 (2) 60-67

March 1993

This paper discusses strategic decision making in firms pursuing biotechnology innovation and the influence of risk regulation on firm strategy. Data from three research projects, involving interviews with over 60 managers from agricultural and food related biotechnology companies and also over 60 key participants in the regulatory process in the UK and EC, shows a diversity of strategy and opinion. While some industry representatives identified new risk regulations governing the release of genetically manipulated organisms (GMOs) as the primary constraint on biotechnology innovation, the findings of the study painted a more complex picture. The controversies surrounding the issue of risk regulation and its impact on innovation are best understood if viewed in the context of other political and economic factors. We conclude that the actual impact of risk regulation on industry strategies is probably less than the rhetoric of industry lobbyists would suggest. At the same time, the very act of lobbying so forcefully could lead to a public backlash against industry that would be much more damaging than the regulation itself.