Jos Bijman and Pierre-Benoît Joly
LEI, the Netherlands & INRA, France

The European seed and pesticide industries have gone through a period of great turmoil in the last decade of the twentieth century. Restructuring processes have been thoroughly influenced by the developments in plant biotechnology. Also changes in the consumer market for food products and changes in government policies have led producers of plant protection products (PPPs) and producers of seeds to reconsider their innovation activities. The agrochemical companies are the main drivers behind the integration of pesticides, biotechnology, and seeds.

This article analyzes the innovation strategies of the European plant biotechnology industry. Innovation is a multidimensional activity. Firm strategies for developing and introducing new products and processes are determined by at least three factors: path, position, and process (Teece et al., 1997). Path refers to the body of knowledge and experience a firm incorporates, and the path dependencies that result from existing knowledge and routines. Position refers to the current products a firm sells and the position it has in particular markets. It also refers to the products it wants to sell, and the effort needed to establish a position in a new market. Process refers to the organization of innovation: to decision-making, information exchange, coordination, and incentive alignment. With insight in path, position, and process the main part of innovation strategies of firms can be explained. While processes have also been studied in the Policy Influences on Technology for Agriculture (PITA) project, this article focuses on positions and paths. Read more…