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The Irish Pharmaceutical Industry over the Boom Period and Beyond

Chris van Egeraat and Frank Barry


The pharmaceutical industry has been one of the strongest performing sectors of the Celtic Tiger era. During the past two decades, employment growth in the sector has been strong and continuous, even when, in recent years, employment in other manufacturing sectors has been contracting. Although positive in itself, from a dynamic regional development perspective it is important to explore the qualitative changes in the types of activities that are conducted in Ireland. Adopting a global production network approach, the paper examines Ireland’s changing role in global production networks within the pharmaceutical industry, focussing on the different components of manufacturing and R&D. The analysis shows that Ireland’s involvement in manufacturing has shifted in the direction of relatively higher value generating activities. Within R&D, although the level of value creation has increased substantially, Ireland’s involvement remains concentrated in the (relatively) lower value generating activities of the global R&D network. In addition, the sector remains strongly dominated by foreign direct investment so that a large share of the created value is not captured within Ireland.

Last updated 28 August 2014 by IIIS (Email).