Master of Science in Organizational Dynamics Theses

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Submitted to the Program of Organizational Dynamics in the Graduate Division of the School of Arts and Sciences in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Organizational Dynamics at the University of Pennsylvania

Advisor: Alan Barstow


Big Pharma is confronted with an unsustainable business model. This is characterized by high attrition rates for medicines under development, increasing regulatory thresholds, and technical complexity of treating diseases of unmet medical need (e.g. Alzheimer’s ). This has driven up the cost of drug development.

Pharma companies are using various approaches to stimulate innovation while also achieving greater operational efficiencies. This is fine in principle, however, big pharm is not known for its ability to rapidly adapt to changing business conditions.

Acme Pharma is attempting to make significant changes to the way it develops medicines. This includes multiple initiatives which have their own mandates to increase operational efficiency and effectiveness, spur innovation and increase engagement. These initiatives have encountered various barriers to their adoption.

A November 2012 HBR article by John Kotter on accelerating change provides a framework which suggests how an organization can cultivate an alternate operating system to the traditional hierarchy. A network based approach to accelerating change in the organization.

This paper will use Kotter’s framework within the context of an idealized design process to formulate the current mess of improvement initiatives within Acme and based on an assessment against Kotter’s framework suggest a new design of how these initiatives can work together within a network of change agents to realize their full intent and effect on the organization.


Idealized Design, Pharmaceutical, R&D



Date Posted: 25 February 2014