An Original Institutionalist Approach to the Structure, Conduct, and Performance of the Pharmaceutical Industry: The Importance of Intangible Assets
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This dissertation presents an examination of the pharmaceutical industry with a primary focus on the importance of intangible assets from the original institutional economics perspective. This is done in three main chapters. The first main chapter examines the importance of intangible assets within the context of the heterodox theory of the business enterprise. It is argued that in the early stage of the going concern – where production is separate from consumption – intangible assets necessitate the creation of monetary bargaining transactions. In industrial capitalism – with the internal separation of the enterprise into industrial and pecuniary divisions – intangible assets take the form of rationing transactions, limiting the number of sellers of a particular product. As the enterprise then evolves into its modern joint-stock form in money manager capitalism, intangible assets become the basis for capitalization, upon which incorporeal property may be issued, increasing the return to shareholders. The second main chapter discusses the structure and performance of the pharmaceutical industry. Based on the concept of centralized private sector planning and Alfred Chandler’s theory of learned organizational capabilities, I develop a core nexus understanding of pharmaceutical industry activity. The core is seen as made up of 15 firms who dictate the direction and evolution of the industry as a whole. I then examine the performance of this core using measurements of financial ratios. Measuring performance in this way is consistent with the stated motives of the business enterprise under money manager capitalism, which embodies the dominance of pecuniary habits of thought over industrial ones. The third main chapter combines the first two, examining one specific member of the core – the Pfizer Corporation – and examines the importance of intangible assets on its activity. Over time, it is shown that Pfizer has become more reliant on intangible assets as an overall portion of total assets, its net tangible assets – the book value of the company – has become negative, and Pfizer relies more heavily on drugs obtained through acquisition, rather than internal development. Money manager capitalism, as a regime of accumulation, rewards enterprises that take on an intangible characteristic. In the pharmaceutical industry, this is done with the aid of mergers and acquisitions due to accounting rules for intangible items such as goodwill and the division of labor between the core and nexus. Dominant pharmaceutical firms, then, should be seen as rent-collecting institutions, as opposed to productive entities.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Intangible assets and the business enterprise: understanding corporate control over social relations -- Structure and performance of the pharmaceutical industry: an original institutional economic perspective -- Intangible assets and the Pfizer Corporation: the importance of mergers, acquisition, and strategic dealings -- Conclusion