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The distinctive patterns of dynamic learning and inter firm differences in the Indian pharmaceutical industry

Kale, D

British Journal of Management   21 (1) 223–238

March 2010   (First published online June 2009)

Technological or institutional change has proven to be a major cause of the failure of established firms, and history is full of examples. In a globalized world the capability of a firm to reconfigure existing competencies and create new knowledge for innovation has emerged as a dynamic capability to succeed. I examine the learning processes involved in the development of innovative R&D capabilities in Indian pharmaceutical firms as a response to the strengthening of patent law. The strong patent law represented a major institutional change for Indian firms which had grown in a weak patent era.

The analysis shows that the development of new capabilities involved the removal of rigidities and the acquisition of new knowledge, and reveals that Indian firms are adopting strategies such as hiring of Indian scientists educated or working overseas in pharmaceutical R&D and collaborative R&D to acquire innovative R&D capabilities. It further points out the inter–intra firm heterogeneity in learning processes and suggests that the move from basic to advance level capabilities is neither linear nor automatic. It requires a deliberate effort and investment by firms in different mechanisms of learning. The Indian pharmaceutical firms' responses provide important insights for firms from other developing countries.