Big pharma in public behind closed doors
Paper short abstract:
Much of my recent research has taken place at workshops and conferences at the edges of the pharmaceutical industry. I reflect on what these events accomplish for organizers and participants, and try to extend the lessons to other kinds of conferences.
Paper long abstract:
In this presentation, I reflect on what workshops and conferences accomplish for organizers and participants, using industry events as a lens. A significant amount of my research over the past ten years has taken place at workshops and conferences at the edges of the pharmaceutical industry. What has made these events valuable for my research is closely related to some of the things that make them valuable to participants. Pharma companies outsource many activities to outside agencies. This creates a need to communicate. People in the agencies communicate amongst themselves and with drug companies about the services they offer, and about best practices. The people involved, both inside and outside the drug companies, need to network. As a result, there are workshops and conferences focused on different aspects of the science and business of pharma. I think of these as penumbral, sitting in an imperfect shadow of the industry. In these partial shadows, we can see some of the industry's behind-the-scenes actors talking about and displaying what they do.
A panel on panels: studying academic conference practice