European Research in Entrepreneurship series
Edited by Alain Fayolle and Kiril Todorov
Chapter 8: Knowledge Creation and Management in an Italian Biotech Startup
Massimo Merlino and Stefania Testa INTRODUCTION 1 In today’s markets, characterized by high levels of dynamism and complexity, both academics and practitioners appear to agree that the firm’s most important asset is knowledge (King and Zeithalm, 2003), since it is the basis for generating innovation (Basadur and Gelade, 2006). Thus it is not surprising that Knowledge Management (KM) (that is the discipline aimed at investigating processes, systems and behaviours that allow companies to nurture and enhance their organizational knowledge) has become one of the hottest issues of management research and practice. Although KM is important for all industries, it is particularly relevant to the so-called knowledge-intensive sectors (for a definition of knowledgeintensive sectors, see Smith, 2002) due to a need for high innovativeness (see, for example, Ruiz Mercader et al., 2006). The biotechnology industry is among these and, due to its high growth rate and impact on economic output, it has alerted the attention of the managerial and academic communities. Biotechnology commonly refers to the application of biological and biochemical science to large-scale production for the purpose of modifying human health, food supplies, or the environment (Standard & Poor’s, 2002). About 50 per cent of the world’s turnover in the biotech industry is derived from the healthcare sector, while the remaining 50 per cent is derived from agricultural/foodstuff, environmental and industrial biotechnologies. There are essentially two types of companies within this industry: integrated companies (pharmaceutical, food and agricultural, chemical, and so on) which utilize biotechnologies for production or research purposes and...