Intuition and pharmaceutical research: the case of AstraZeneca

Mats Sundgren (Executive PhD Student Fenix Research Program, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Alexander Styhre (Associate Professor, at the Fenix Research Program, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden)

European Journal of Innovation Management

ISSN: 1460-1060

Publication date: 1 December 2004


The role of intuition receives little attention in the literature on organizational creativity. This paper describes a study of the role of intuition and its implications for organizational creativity within pharmaceutical research. The study applies French philosopher Bergson's philosophy of intuition. The study is based on a series of interviews with employees in pre‐clinical research (discovery) in a major pharmaceutical company; in this context, creativity is defined as an organization's ability to bring forth a new candidate drug in the gastrointestinal and cardiovascular therapy areas. This paper concludes that intuition is a resource that facilitates new drug development. Pharmaceutical researchers perceive the roles of intuition and creativity as intertwined in ground‐breaking innovations. However intuition is a controversial phenomenon in the organization because it opposes reductionistic and analytical forms of thinking, which are highly prized in new drug development. Bergson's philosophy may form a fruitful foundation from which intuition and its relevance for organizational creativity can be exploited.



Sundgren, M. and Styhre, A. (2004), "Intuition and pharmaceutical research: the case of AstraZeneca", European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 7 No. 4, pp. 267-279.

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Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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