GSK by end-2005 was the world's third largest pharmaceutical company in terms of market capitalisation (85.5 billion) and is in the top tier of global industry competitors in turnover (21.7 billion), operating profits (6.9 billion), employees (over 100,000), products in development (149), and profitability (12 of 30 major products each had sales over 500 million) (GSK, 2006).
GSK resulted from the 2000 merger between two English global healthcare businesses - Glaxo Wellcome plc and SmithKline Beecham plc -, and has its headquarters in London, two operational headquarters in the U.S., principal research and development (R&D) labs in the U.S., Japan, Italy, Spain, and Belgium, manufacturing plants in 37, operations in 119, and sales offices in 130 countries (GSK, 2006).
Business competition and survival in the industry is characterised by getting the right number of products to the right markets at an affordable price and at the right time (Stiglitz, 2002, p. 224). Companies need to achieve efficiencies at all stages of each product's life cycle: from establishing the target strategy (which sickness to address and compounds to test), to testing and licensing (getting government approval takes years), commercialisation (where and how to sell, at what price, and which distribution network to use), and supply chain management (manufacturing and getting drugs to the patients who need them).
Stiff competition from generics, rising product development costs, growing R&D failure rates, and increasing legal threats push GSK to develop drugs faster, safer, and more profitably. This is where KM initiatives are important. With over 100,000 employees - many among them top scientists that gave us retroviral drugs for HIV, vaccines for deadly hepatitis, medications for ulcers and erectile dysfunction, and Horlicks for nutrition - GSK is a repository of immense knowledge that can be shared efficiently and effectively.
McKinsey & Company: An Overview
McKinsey & Company is a privately held U.S.-based management consulting established in 1926 as an accounting and engineering analysis firm. The legendary Marvin Bower, Managing Director from 1950 to 1967, led its growth and development into a global power by transforming a small technical-oriented company into one of the most knowledge-based firms within the global management consulting industry (Edersheim, 2004).
McK, with 2004 annual revenues of $3.5 billion and 11,500 staff working in 80 offices in 40 countries is highly profitable, has a strong brand image, and spends at least 10 percent of its annual revenues on managing and sharing knowledge. In comparison with other giants like IBM and Accenture, McK is the 8th largest in annual revenues (MCI, 2004).
McK has been consistently recognised for developing knowledge workers through senior management leadership,