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2024 | Book

Industrial Dynamics and Firm Strategies in the Agrochemical Industry


About this book

The Brief explores the relationship between industrial dynamics, business strategies, and environmental regulations in the agrochemical industry. Focusing on contested technologies that continue to be used despite evidence of their hazardous impacts, the book calls for investigating the potential hazards during the inventive phase of companies to anticipate future risks. Combining patent analysis with computational chemistry and toxicology, the author examines the toxicity of chemical inventions and the effectiveness of environmental regulations in curbing harmful products. The result is a comprehensive dataset that combines patent data with chemical structures, which provides valuable insights into firms' innovation strategies as well as their potential hazards. Underscoring the importance of effective regulation in addressing social and environmental challenges, this Brief will be of interest to researchers and practitioners at the intersection of numerous fields, including economic policy, industrial economics, agribusiness, management, life sciences, and sustainability.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Geographical and Industrial Dynamics of Chemical Inventions: The Case of Persistent Organic Pollutants
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are a class of highly toxic chemical substances, and for this reason, their use, production, and trade have been banned across countries worldwide. I examine the first group of POPs to be banned (i.e., aldrin, chlordane, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, mirex, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), toxaphene, DDT, pentachlorobenzene and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins) and investigate the historical and emergent pattern of POP-related inventions by way of a unique dataset that includes patent applications over the period 1991–2010. I find an industry growth over time characterized by an increasing number of new firms inventing around POP-related technologies as well as a diffusion in a range of new countries such as China, Argentina, Brazil and Russia rather than the USA, EU and Japan where POP-related inventions were first filed in history.
Gianluca Biggi
Chapter 2. Assessing Policy Impact on Chemical Inventions: The Case of the Stockholm Convention
Once companies develop hazardous products which can be dangerous for the environment and human health, it takes very long for regulatory bodies to ban these products. However, very little is known about the impact of regulatory action on firms’ inventive strategies. Using a difference-in-difference approach, I test the impact of regulation on a sample of POP-related patents against a control sample of untreated pesticides. Interestingly, I find that the signature and/or ratification of Stockholm Convention – the UN ban on the use, trade and production of persistent organic pollutants – increases the rate of POP-related invention and new compound patenting, opening up interesting questions about corporate innovative strategies and calling for further research on the nature of the new POP-related inventions.
Gianluca Biggi
Chapter 3. Are We Moving Towards a More Sustainable World? Insights from Patent Analysis of Chemical Inventions
Industrialized economies have historically maintained the hope that the advances in science, technology and innovation would have offered to humanity a wide range of options to improve its well-being and attain sustained economic growth. The transition towards a high technological frontier arising from the rapid advances of science, technology and innovation has opened a debate on the relations between innovation-induced industrial activities, related possible social and environmental threats and the role of policies to keep up with industry developments. To investigate those relations, I collect a unique dataset that includes patent applications in chemical technologies and analyse their disclosed groups of compounds by combining patent analysis with computational chemistry, and I develop a novel methodology to measure patent toxicity, that is, the extent to which a patent includes ‘components’ (i.e. chemical compounds) that are potentially toxic to humans and/or the environment. To illustrate the proposed methodology, I analyse the toxicity of 12 regulated chemical technologies as the persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in comparison with a control group of unregulated technologies. The measurement of patent toxicity opens up interesting avenues for future research and for policy.
Gianluca Biggi
Industrial Dynamics and Firm Strategies in the Agrochemical Industry
Gianluca Biggi
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