Evolutionary Innovations: The Business of Biotechnology

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Oxford University Press, 1996 - Science - 319 pages
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This book examines the initial commercial uses of genetic engineering. Genetic engineering is one of the most modern, controversial and dynamic of the science based technologies. It is not an object but a set of techniques or way of doing things. The development of these techniques from the 1970s onwards illustrates the changing relationships between research oriented toward basic science and research oriented towards commercial uses, and between universities and firms. The main focus of the book is on two firms - Genentech in the United States and Kabi in Sweden and their activities and `knowledge seeking' behaviour in the development of human growth hormone and how those ran in parallel with university science. As well as providing a remarkably clear account of these developments (the book includes a chapter on the basics of biotechnology for the lay person), McKelvey also provides a fresh contribution to our understanding of innovation processes by using the evolutionary metaphor to interpret patterns of change where novelty, transmission, and selection are important elements, and the knowledge seeking behaviour of firms and other agents are critical for survival and development. The book will be of considerable interest to a wide audience concerned to understand the complexities of innovation processes in the `knowledge society' - management and organization researchers, economists, policy advisers, managers and strategists responsible for turning knowledge into product and profit. Endorsements: `Maureen McKelvey's study of the rise of modern biotechnology as a field of science, and particularly of the work which led to the commercial introduction of human insulin and growth hormones, provides a wonderful window into the history. If this study was merely that, it would be an important work. But it is more. McKelvey's study is a major addition to the growing collection of detailed technological histories that are gradually giving scholars of technological advance understanding of the key processes involved. Her treatment of technological advance in this area as an evolutionary process is an important contribution advancing that way of conceptualizing how technologies develop.' Richard R. Nelson, Columbia University `It is fascinating to read Maureen McKelvey's study recounting the development of recombinant DNA-based biotechnology as a rising industry ... fifteen years after participating in the rDNA human growth hormone and insulin projects and I am still excited reading this book.' Norm S. Lin, Senior Scientist, Cell Culture and Fermentation Research and Process Development, Genentech, Inc.

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Early Commercial Uses of Genetic Engineering
Technological Innovation as Evolutionary
Issues about Technical and Economic Change

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About the author (1996)

Maureen McKelvey is an Associate Professor, Department of Technology and Social Change at Linkoping University.

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