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Book Review: Practical Leadership for Biopharmaceutical Company Executives

Biotechnology company management presents several challenges relative to other industries. Firstly, many biotechnology managers come from scientific backgrounds and find their way into management positions with little formal management training. Secondly the tenure of managers may be short, and movement to new companies can bring new responsibilities, a different corporate culture, and a different external environment. Finally, the biotechnology industry is in a state of flux, with health care reform, pricing pressures, and the combined forces of globalization, offshoring, and increased outsourcing. So, it is with great interest that I read Practical Leadership for Biopharmaceutical Executives.

Author Jane Chin has a diverse background as founder and president of the Medical Science Liaison Institute, as managing partner in a management consulting firm, and with a certificate in competitive intelligence. In writing the book, Chin arranged it into seven chapters, each of which is presented in the style of a journal paper, complete with abstract and keywords. The book is primarily directed at middle and upper level management, and is also intended to serve a larger audience of organizational development consultant, C and E level executives, venture capitalists, and students. The chapters cover leadership as a phenomenon; management leadership competencies; presence, stewardship, and development; self-concept as a leader; and, a new model for pharmaceutical leadership.

While I applaud Chin’s definition of the role and responsibilities of leaders, I fear that the book does not serve the audience the jacket copy describes as its target. The introduction, for example, describes the methodology and conclusions of a study of biopharmaceutical executive leadership themes which is comprised of an analysis of 50,000 words transcribed from interview notes. It is excellent material, but seems better suited to a management journal than to a book. The remaining chapters follow a similar style, describing case studies and frameworks focused on biopharmaceutical management. The dense academic style of this book seems best suited to high-level specialized students and to career coaches and human resource professionals — those who manage managers.

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