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Keywords:

  • Knowledge capabilities;
  • networks;
  • industry organisation;
  • bioscience firms;
  • scientometric analysis

ABSTRACT

This paper builds on a suite of research studies examining the metamorphosis in industry organisation, as Penrose calls it, regarding the centrality of firm capabilities in biosciences. Whereas knowledge leadership capabilities used to be inside global corporations now they have given way to university laboratories and dedicated biotechnology firm networks to access innovative research. The basic argument is that research centre and small firm knowledge capabilities have generally outstripped those of the multinationals in knowledge-intensive industry, a consequence of which is a re-alignment in cause-and-effect outcomes shaping economic geography. This is particularly pronounced in biosciences and pharmaceuticals. The paper mobilises a new theoretical framework and new data that support the thesis that a realignment of industry organisation around knowledge capabilities was pioneered in biosciences, is active in other industries, and biosciences is now entering a new phase. This mirrors a rise in systems biology that re-asserts the dominance of key nodes in global bioeconomy hierarchies.