Alfred Osta has been an adjunct assistant professor in the school of business at Lebanese International University (LIU) and Arab Open University (AOU) since 2017. From 2003 to 2017, he served as course chair and lecturer at AOU. He received his Doctorate in Business Administration from Grenoble Ecole de Management, France in 2014. His research interests include innovation and HRM. He served as a reviewer of conference papers for the Academy of Management, in which he has been a member since 2007.
Adopting an innovation process perspective, this paper aims to examine two important issues in the pharmaceutical industry. First, the origins of radical inventions are studied. Are individuals more or less likely to create radical inventions than teams? One thing for sure, in the ongoing debate about the importance of the individual, there is no consensus on an unequivocal answer. On the one hand, research in support of the continuing importance of the individual asserts they are still major players in the invention of breakthroughs (i.e. radical inventions). On the other hand, others proclaim that as inventions became more industrialized the role of the individual has been marginalized. We thus intend to contribute to the ongoing debate by investigating the importance, or lack thereof, of the individual in conceiving radical inventions – in the pharmaceutical context. The extant literature on innovation mainly focuses on independent inventors working outside organizational contexts. We intend to focus on individual inventors versus teams working in organizations. The ‘battle of the minds’ emerges as an important and interesting subject to tackle – is one mind better than many minds in developing breakthroughs in organizations? Using data from United States Patent and Trademark Office (uspto.gov) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (fda.gov), our empirical findings do indeed provide results in support of the importance of individual in developing radical inventions. Second, this paper also investigates whether radical inventions are predictors of breakthrough innovation, i.e. whether the ratio of radical inventions to total inventions (per innovation) increases the likelihood of developing breakthrough innovations. Our results, we proffer, contributes to the extant literature in terms of shedding light on the role and impact of patented radical inventions in the creation of breakthrough innovations, again in the pharmaceutical context. Using data
from uspto.gov and fda.gov, our empirical results interestingly confirm that in fact when the ratio of underlying radical inventions to non-radical inventions (per innovation) increases, the likelihood of developing breakthrough innovations decreases.