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R&D investment behavior of US pharmaceutical firms

Michal Jirásek (Department of Corporate Economics, Faculty of Economics and Administration, Masarykovya Univerzita, Brno, Czech Republic)

International Journal of Innovation Science

ISSN: 1757-2223

Article publication date: 5 June 2017




The behavioral theory of the firm (BTOF) has been used to explain the research and development (R&D) investment behavior of firms in numerous multi industry studies. However, their partially contradictory results point to the possible need for a single industry perspective that would reduce heterogeneity of business trends, models and other characteristics. This study aims to test this theoretical assumption within the challenging context of the US pharmaceutical industry.


The research uses data from 20 firms, which number among the largest in the US pharmaceutical industry, over the period 2002-2014. These data are analyzed using fixed- and random-effect panel models.


The findings generally support the need for a thorough understanding of the industry under study and its specific characteristics. The firms analyzed in this research behave slightly differently from theoretical assumptions, and it is argued that this is caused by industry specific factors. Moreover, the use of two separate aspiration measures – for historical and social aspirations – is supported as it provides more in-depth insight into the firms’ behavior.


This paper, which is based on research presented at the 4th International Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, represents the first inquiry into the R&D investment behavior of pharmaceutical firms using the BTOF. It also represents an argument for conducting single-industry rather than multi industry studies when using this theory.



The paper was supported by the Masaryk University research projects: Innovation capability as the basis for measurement of organizational innovation performance and Strategic behavior-firm performance cycle and influencing factors. The author would like to thank anonymous reviewers and participants of the 4th International Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship for helpful comments. All remaining errors remain his own.


Jirásek, M. (2017), "R&D investment behavior of US pharmaceutical firms", International Journal of Innovation Science, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 205-219.



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