Effectiveness of a GSK Acquisition of Sirtris Case Study

Total Length: 324 words ( 1 double-spaced pages)

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(a) When GlaksoSmithKline (GSK) acquired Sirtris, the purpose of the venture was not merely to purchase access to major new drugs that would prove lucrative adds to the portfolio, but to acquire a culture—a radically new model of business strategy, organization, and leadership. (b) Contrary to the hierarchical GSK organizational structure and its traditional culture, Siritris exhibited a more visionary, unique approach characterized by “entrepreneurial dynamism,” exactly what fostered the firm’s innovativeness (Stuart & Weber, 2009, p. 1). Siritris offered a radically new approach to drug discovery that GSK recognized as adding value to the organization through a fundamental reform of its research and development processes. (c) The advantages of the acquisition were therefore clear from the start: inject new energy into the innovative process through structural and methodological reforms. A “revolution” ensued, in which research, innovation, and development was combined with performance-oriented culture (Stuart & Weber, 2009, p. 3).

(d) Of course, radical change is bound to present significant drawbacks to GSK as well as Sirtris.

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A primary concern was how being absorbed by the industry giant would impact the actual culture of Sirtris, potentially undermining the very thing that initiated the acquisition in the first place. New communications styles and protocols needed to be implemented without disrupting the organizational culture of Sirtris. A second issue was related to human resources, both with regards to recruiting new talent and retaining existing staff. The scientists who would have been drawn to working for a radical innovator like Sitrtris might not be as enamored by working for GSK, for example. Integrating the drug discovery process into a common whole also proved to be a major drawback in the acquisition. (e) However, the reformed GSK discovery process ultimately proved effective. The acquisition of Sirtris’s unique approach to drug development helped reform the GSK processes of research and development to add significant value to the organization.


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Stuart, T. & Weber, J. (2009). GSK’s acquisition of Sirtis: independence or integration?

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