The coevolution of firms and their knowledge environment: insights from the pharmaceutical industry

Filipe M. Santos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


What are the most effective learning strategies for firms given the characteristics of their knowledge environment? This paper addresses this question by documenting the major changes in the knowledge environment of the pharmaceutical industry, with a particular emphasis on the period since the emergence of biotechnology, and discussing the related changes in the learning strategies of established pharmaceutical firms. Both the historical analysis and a review of the empirical research on organizational learning and knowledge transfer reveal a strong emphasis of firms on external learning through interfirm collaborations and sourcing of external knowledge. This learning strategy seems to be driven by the speed, uncertainty, and dispersion of knowledge developments in the industry. Studying the connections between the knowledge environment and the effectiveness of organizational learning processes is important to understand organizational change and adaptation, and is an area of research that deserves further attention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-715
Number of pages29
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Coevolution
  • Interfirm collaborations
  • Knowledge environment
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Organizational learning
  • Pharmaceutical industry


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