Department of Economics

Governing financialisation, innovation and productivity in UK manufacturing (GoFinPro)

Project information

Co-Principal Investigator


  • Mustafa Erdem Sakinc
  • Oner Tulum
  • Matt Hopkins


  • Gatsby Foundation, £180,000


  • 2017–2019


Innovation by Britain’s firms will be a key determinant of national success in an increasingly competitive global environment for high-value industries. As Britain considers how to develop an industrial strategy "fit for the future", however, the decline in long-term productivity in the UK continues to puzzle managers, academics and policymakers. Recent research has highlighted the need to examine sectoral dynamics and include questions of industrial policy in a relevant historical context. Such work has helped to focus on the specific British industries and firms where issues of competitiveness, productivity and innovation need to be studied in detail.

Conceptually, however, it remains necessary to enhance our understanding of the interplay between the development of innovative capabilities and the specific governance conditions that are required to generate sustained productivity growth at firm and industrial-ecosystem level.

Developing such capabilities in innovative enterprises requires the commitment of financial resources to collective and cumulative learning processes within both the firm and its ecosystem. This commitment relies on the abilities and the incentives of those executives who exercise strategic control over the corporate allocation of financial resources and returns. We thus need to consider whether strategic decision-making within UK firms over the past two decades has been influenced by destructive financialisation practices.

The GoFinPro project has added to existing research into issues of productivity and innovation in UK industry by conducting historical firm-level research in order to build comparative studies of firms and sectors to examine the potential influence of financialisation practices on the development of UK firms within their sectoral and national specificities.

The key manufacturing sectors of pharmaceuticals and aerospace were chosen to investigate indicators that link changes in corporate governance and financial behaviour to innovative capabilities and productivity performance.

The GoFinPro project has been funded by the Gatsby Foundation and has been carried out at SOAS University of London in collaboration with Institut Mines Telecom Business School in France and the Academic-Industry Research Network (AIR-Net).



From Financialisation to Innovation in UK Big Pharma AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline
By Öner Tulum, Antonio Andreoni and William Lazonick
2022, Cambridge University Press, Open Access

Reviews and endorsements

Jayati Ghosh, Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst

"The tension between financialization (and the associated incentives for share buybacks and focus on shareholder value alone) and the needs of productive investment and innovation has become a defining feature of contemporary capitalism-nowhere more evident than in the pharma industry. This detailed study of two UK firms shows that different, more socially desirable outcomes are possible: appropriate regulatory and policy regimes can support collective innovation efforts to create value for society rather than just for shareholders. This critically important book is essential reading for anyone concerned with viable corporate governance models that are alternatives to destructive forms of financialized capitalism."

Ha-Joon Chang, Professor of Economics, SOAS University of London

"Governments around the world are rediscovering the importance of industrial policy for productive investments and innovation, especially in sectors that are strategic in dealing with todays' multiple environmental and health crises. Such efforts are however pointless if firms are allowed to financialise and extract value from productive organisations. Through a meticulous historical analysis of two major pharmaceutical companies, this extraordinary book shows the dangers of financialisation and how we can control it. It is a tremendously important and timely book for economists, policy-makers, and citizens looking to promote sustainable prosperity for the many."

Lord David Sainsbury, Chancellor of the University of Cambridge and Former UK Under-Secretary of State for Science and Innovation

"In this impressive book, the authors establish a clear link between the innovation performance of companies and their governance. They do this by looking at the innovation performance of two leading UK pharmaceutical companies, AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline, in the ten years after the mergers in 1999 and 2000 which created them. During the period both companies adopted US-style governance models which linked the reward of executives to increases in the share price of their companies. At the same time executives were allowed to raise the share price of their companies by share buybacks … By establishing such a clear link between the innovation performance of companies and their governance, this book makes an important contribution to the study of how the innovation performance of companies can be improved, and it should be read by both executives and Government policymakers."

image of Antonio Andreoni book

Pictured: Front cover of the book From Financialisation to Innovation in UK Big Pharma AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline, by Öner Tulum, Antonio Andreoni and William Lazonick.

Other outputs

  • Financialisation, innovation and productivity: A UK perspective
    William Lazonick, Antonio Andreoni, and Marie Carpenter
  • A healthy industry? Innovation, financialization and productivity in the UK pharmaceutical industry: A comparative analysis of GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca as the two British industrial champions
    Öner Tulum, Antonio Andreoni and William Lazonick
  • The Financialisation of the UK Aerospace Sector
    Erdem Sakinç, Marie Carpenter and Antonio Andreoni
  • Governing Financialisation: A UK Industrial Strategy to Retain and Reinvest
    Antonio Andreoni, Matt Hopkins and William Lazonick

SOAS International Conference, 10 July 2019
Governing Financialisation for an Innovative Economy