Knowledge boost for pharma industry

The pharmaceutical industry has created value primarily by generating, and assembling information into knowledge applicable to human health,” explains Elham Elshafie Mohamed of the Business School at King Saud University in Riyadh. “Therefore, it is critical to improving R&D productivity and reduce product cycle time.” Critical to successful knowledge management in this context is to capture internal knowledge and information in parallel with assimilation from external sources, she suggests. “Effective knowledge management can provide very significant and measurable advantages for enhancing the pharmaceutical innovation,” says Mohamed.

Mohamed has homed in on several important advantages of the adoption of knowledge management techniques in pharmaceutical industry innovation:

  1. The use of KM can lead to more rapid regulatory approval of new drugs
  2. It facilitates fast sharing and distributing knowledge between development and manufacturing
  3. It overcomes the problem of limited time to meet demand after start-up
  4. It offers greater flexibility in lowering the cost of manufacturing changes compared with other approaches.
  5. It increases the predictability and reliability of manufacturing output.
  6. It leads to reduced batch failure, final testing, and so reduces expenses
  7. It improves R&D productivity and reduces overall cost cycle time

Mohamed’s conclusions are based on an extensive, systematic review of the business research literature in this field. Her detailed conclusions offer researchers and practitioners guidance in understanding how a pharmaceutical company can benefit from building and sustaining innovation through knowledge management.

Elshafie, E.M. (2016) ‘Pharmaceutical Knowledge Management: why does pharmaceutical industry need knowledge management?’ Int. J. Knowledge Management Studies, Vol. 7, Nos. 3/4, pp.288–304

Research Picks March 2017

Take a brake

Researchers in China have investigated one of the oldest annoyances associated with driving a car – brake squeal. Where research have investigated this phenomenon since the 1930s with no real sign of a cure for the howling that sometimes occurs as brake pads clamp around a brake disk, the team has looked at how the shape of the brake pads can affect the oscillation frequency. The team has demonstrated that “slotting” of brake pads often offered as a solution does little to reduce the noise whereas changing the overall shape systematically could eventually lead to a new design that precludes the worrying howl. Of course, the next step will be rigours safety checks of any new designs and regulatory approval before car manufacturers are able to offer silent braking as an option.

Guan, D.H., Du, Y.C. and Wang, X.F. (2016) ‘Effect of pad shapes on high-frequency disc brake squeal’, Int. J. Vehicle Design, Vol. 72, No. 4, pp.354-371.

What is clean energy?

The term “clean energy” is bandied about by corporate marketers and politicians alike as well as environmental activists. Researchers in France have now asked what exactly we mean by this buzz phrase, which can have different connotations for different people. The team has analysed speeches made by President Obama over the last several years in which he comments on “clean energy” and compares those mentions with the phrase in the context of French language newspaper articles across Europe. Fundamentally, in English the adjective “clean” as it is used in “clean energy” tends to refer to the restriction of emissions and an attempt to limit air pollution and so might include solar and wind power as well as what many see as an oxymoron “clean coal”. In contrast, the French equivalent “énergie propre” is a more ambiguous phrase where “propre” entirely precludes the notion of “clean coal” or other high-carbon and thence polluting technologies regardless of whether or not the fuel is treated to reduce pollution or scrubbers are used to reduce carbon or noxious emissions in exhaust fumes.

La Corte, G. (2016) ‘What does ‘clean energy’ refer to?‘, Progress in Industrial Ecology – An International Journal, Vol. 10, Nos. 2/3, pp.117-138.

The rise of Android malware

Android is a common and well-known operating system on mobile computing devices, tablet PCs, smart phones, smart televisions and other internet-enabled equipment. As such, it is a significant target for those who write malicious software to exploit security loopholes in such operating systems, whether or not they have malicious or criminal intent in so doing. Researchers in India suggest that there are at least 6 million malware programs that can infect and afflict Android devices. The team has surveyed the various types of Android malware and have made a series of suggestions as to how the dozens of device manufacturers and hundreds of millions of users alike might protect themselves from malware.

Dayal, M. and Nagpal, B. (2016) ‘A compendious investigation of Android malware family‘, Int. J. Information Privacy, Security and Integrity, Vol. 2, No. 4, pp.330-352.

Throwing in the towel

Research from Bangladesh has investigated towel re-use in hotels, the perception of guests on this issue and the notion of sustainability. Hotel guests generally have positive perceptions regarding towel re-use assuming that fewer towels used during their stay, means less washing and so lower environmental impact. There are also benefits in terms of lower costs and perhaps even less back pain for hotel servicing staff. However, the perceptions were not universal, some hotel guests perhaps recognising that their flight or other transport to the hotel for their vacation or business trip significantly outweighed any environmental benefit of using the same towels for the duration of their stay.

Islam, M.M. (2016) ‘Perceptions of the hotel guests on the sustainability of towel re-use‘, Int. J. Hospitality and Event Management, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp.305-324.

Connected migrants

Contrary to common perception, migrants and refugees are often well connected in terms of mobile technology, using smart phones for communications, mapping and social networking during their journeys. Moreover, many economic or political refugees find themselves in camps that sometimes even offer them recharging stations for their devices or a wireless internet connection.

Migrants from Afghanistan, Iran and Syria often use mobile technology to assist them in escaping their fate in their home country and ultimately in finding a new home. Technology might act as a rough guide to destinations and transit points in countries such as Turkey and Greece, as well as providing access to friends and family who can lend them money to continue the journey.

Judith Zijlstra of the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR) at the University of Amsterdam and Ilse van Liempt of the Human Geography Department at Utrecht University share details of their case study on the use of mobile technology by migrants on their way to Europe. The article is published in the International Journal of Migration and Border Studies.

The authors have used a research approach known as trajectory ethnography that allows them to understand how mobile technology affects the journey of migrants: “This methodology leads to a more nuanced understanding of irregular migration because it enables us to capture the complex dynamics involved in irregular migration processes and to reflect on decisions taken by migrants throughout the process,” the team reports.

The team demonstrates that mobile technologies and smart phones increase migrants’ mobility by enlarging individuals’ access to online information during their journey and by promoting new interconnections between migrants en route. Migrants try to build contacts with migrants who have already completed the journey, as the information given by them is considered more trustworthy.

Nevertheless, the availability of a smart phone is not a panacea that will always assist a migrant in crossing borders safely or reaching the intended destination. “Differences in educational background, digital literacy and foreign language skills have an important effect on migrants’ ability to actually use and profit from mobile technology,” the team explains. In addition, migrants are still the ones that have to make strategic decisions on the goal and continuation of their trip.

Zijlstra, J. and van Liempt, I. (2017) ‘Smart(phone) travelling: understanding the use and impact of mobile technology on irregular migration journeys’, Int. J. Migration and Border Studies, Vol. 3, Nos. 2/3, pp.174-191.