Pfizer and BioNTech: Collaborative Bases

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Organizations work diligently to achieve goals set by the management and the entire team. All the efforts made by companies are directed towards customer fulfillment or solving problems within the business line (Pfeffer, 2010, p. 144). One of the current trends in businesses today is working together to achieve key benefits for the parties involved. Companies collaborate to share the resources and risks, create a higher value for their customers, and enhance expertise and opportunities available in the business line. Currently, many companies have benefited a lot from collaborative bases because they can control the prevailing factors.

Due to the emergence of COVID-19, companies have been working towards getting a vaccine that can be used to prevent the virus. Examples of companies that have collaborated to make vaccines are Pfizer and BioNTech (Mahase, 2020, p. 2). This essay aims at providing the base competitive advantage between the two companies. It identifies the general aims of having this strategy to realize a preventive vaccine for the Coronavirus. The essay also discusses the challenges and multicultural strategies that the two companies have gone through.

Bases for Collaborative Advantage

Organizations collaborate to access resources if a company cannot realize its goals using its existing resources. In this case, access to resources can be in terms of finances or human resources (Pfeffer, 2010, p. 146). The competitive advantage strategy allows different resources to be brought together, and it can be in the form of expertise, innovative design, and technology. For instance, a collaboration between firms can be a case whereby one company provides the product. In contrast, the other party provides the market strategy for the product to have recognition to the buyers. The collaboration between Pfizer and BioNTech is to combine the expertise power that would enable more innovation on the vaccine making, production, and supply to the countries that have been affected by the Coronavirus. Pfizer has had the idea of collaboration since 2018, and it is a key player in the collaboration as it has more expansion and human resources more than BioNTech.

Another base for collaborative advantage is for shared risk. Many firms have embraced this idea because the outcome of failure in any project may have a hugely adverse effect that one company could not withstand. Therefore, companies see it better to have collaborations to share the risks in any case they occur (Behfar, Brett and Kern, 2006 p. 156). The competitive advantage base is evident between cost-intensive research organizations that aim to develop a given portfolio within their business line. Shared risk gives firms the zeal to follow the strategies because each firm knows there would be shared responsibility incase uncertainties occur.

Companies embrace collaboration due to the demand for efficiency that comes mostly from the stakeholders. Efficiency can be in various forms, such as operational, outsourcing, and coordination efficiencies. For example, purchasing and supply alliances have the idea within their framework because purchasing firms get efficiency by ensuring product delivery and supply are achieved on time and according to the set methodology and terms (Behfar, Brett and Kern, 2006, p. 157). The efficiency that supplying organizations will have is the existing relatively forecastable markets.

Business collaborates for coordination because there is a need to have people work together towards the companies’ goals. Coordination prevents issues such as repetition, omission, and divergence of business procedures. The other reason why companies form alliances is that there is a need for learning. The learning that is desired in this case should be mutual. One procedure can help a company conduct their process in the same manner (Behfar, Brett and Kern, 2006 p. 157). Lastly, firms collaborate for moral imperative, such as issues that society has been facing, alleviation of problems at all the parties involved in all the working line levels.

Aims for Collaboration Between Pfizer and BioNTech

The general aim of the collaboration between Pfizer and BioNTech was to accelerate the global COVID-19 vaccine development. The aim was executed by jointly developing the COVID-19 vaccine in the US and Europe. The two firms scaled-up manufacturing capacity to support the supply of the vaccine to the entire world (Mahase, 2020, p. 3). The base collaborative advantage, in this case, is the access of resources because Pfizer was to contribute by the provision of clinical research and development while BioNTech was to invest resources in terms of finances for the development of the program.

The End Result for the Alliance

The result of the alliance between Pfizer and BioNTech is a collaborative advantage. The reason is that the vaccine has been successfully tested, and there is an ongoing supply for the same in all countries by the World Health Organization (Jeyanathan et al., 2020, p. 617). The outcome has led to more recognition of the two companies where they will benefit heavily by having huge profits that will develop the companies more. Through the alliance, the companies have been able to critically analyze the feasibility and impact the procedure would have on the company and general society (Behfar, Brett and Kern, 2006 p. 157). Therefore, the companies have managed to forecast certainties and uncertainties while developing the vaccine.

How Cultural Diversity Affects Collaborations

Cultural diversity affects the direct and indirect communication in the multicultural team. When communication is not clear in the team, there could be barriers to success in the teamwork that is essential for achieving the set objectives. Pfizer and BioNTech are companies from the US and Germany, respectively (Jeyanathan et al. 2020, p. 623). The Western world’s communication style and culture aree explicit and direct, where it rarely embraces compromise. In the other parts of the world, such as the eastern side where German is based, communication is characterized by the meaning being embedded depending on how the message is presented. It means the two organizations had a workforce from both the US and Germany. Therefore, Americans needed their German counterparts to take instructions how they appear, unlike Germans who closely reacted to the instructions depending on the context.

Pfizer diversified the study participants, where about a significant number were from racially and ethnically diverse regions. The company did that as an important tool because the African American nationals would have suspicions on the vaccine development, as was evident since the US government’s syphilis experiments years ago (Mahase, 2020, p. 4). Another important factor under diversity is seen when Pfizer did not rely on R&D funds from the government. After all, that was a way to liberate the researchers from bureaucracy. After all, many Americans believe that when someone gets money from a certain source, it comes with strings attached, and reciprocation is required (Jeyanathan et al., 2020, p. 627). That symbolizes how indirect communication would have altered the entire process due to the diversity in terms of thoughts and ideas.

The other cultural diversity that affected the alliance between Pfizer and BioNTech is the ideological differences in authority and hierarchy. The two companies had human resources from different regions whereby every employee had a different way in which they are supposed to be addressed (Mahase, 2020, p. 4). Such countries as Germany, which is on the eastern side, value status instead of the Americans. To some extent, Germany is a collectivist country where the result of any action is first perceived towards social welfare, unlike in the US, where the outcome is centered towards one party.

In this case, Pfizer embraced results being simultaneously shared with the public for the development of a vaccine. BioNTech intended to get the health and medicine agencies’ results for a further directive about the task. The other challenge involved decision-making among the two companies’ members (Jeyanathan et al., 2020, p. 627). The US researchers wanted to quickly analyze the vaccine feasibility and administration results without thorough analysis. In contrast, the ones from other countries preferred concrete analysis and comprehensive reports on vaccine development.

Strategies for Managing Cultural Diversity

Adaption is the common strategy that involves one team adapting another team’s way of operations. For example, since Pfizer had to collaborate with BioNTech, the language was a barrier in communication style (Pfeffer, 2010, p. 147). This would be adapting to one language that has more basic research on medicine and vaccine administration. As far as decision-making is concerned, it would require structural intervention that targets designing working procedures to reduce members’ friction. Therefore, having a discussion forum to concur on the best practices for developing the COVID-19 vaccine would be appropriate in this case (Behfar, Brett and Kern, 2006 p. 156). Managerial intervention is also necessary for preventing cultural diversity constraints, such as lack of coordination between members due to working differences. The overall person in charge of a working formula in developing an effective COVID-19 vaccine is responsible for mediating the differences in the procedures required.


Companies collaborate for various reasons, such as sharing risks during the operational framework. Other reasons may include companies wanting to combine financial and human resources to achieve an objective. Collaborations are important because they lead to efficiency in the working environments for given organizations. Both Pfizer and BioNTech embraced the access of resources base for collaborative advantage when developing COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer offered many clinical types of research about the vaccine, while BioNTech majorly did financial resources. However, the two companies were actively involved in the two roles because they needed mutual benefits. The general aim for Pfizer and BioNTech collaborating was to develop a feasible plan effective development of a preventive vaccine for Coronavirus disease.

Some of the cultural diversities that affected the collaboration between the two companies were direct and indirect language style, decision-making, and differences in the key players’ authority and hierarchy. Moreover, adaptation, structural and managerial intervention would prevent the cultural diversity that brings organizational outline challenges, especially in collaborations. Companies should embrace using effective strategies to combat any constraint in the business process brought by cultural diversity.


Behfar, K., Kern, M. and Brett, J. (2006) Managing challenges in multicultural teams. In National culture and groups. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Jeyanathan, M. et al. (2020) ‘Immunological considerations for COVID-19 vaccine strategies’, Nature Reviews Immunology, 20(10), pp. 615-632.

Mahase, E. (2020) ‘Covid-19: UK approves Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine with rollout due to start next week’, BMJ, 5(4), pp. 2-6.

Pfeffer, J. (1994) Managing with power: ‘Politics and influence in organizations.’ London: Harvard Business Press.

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