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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

The impact of pharmaceutical/chemical plant in a developing country

Faisal Mehdi Bachlani

The impact of pharmaceutical/chemical plant in a developing country


The remit of my dissertation has been to focus on the economic and social outcomes of industrialisation in the developing world. I have taken 'industrialisation' to mean those activities associated with the manufacturing of and consumption of chemicals for instance, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals and fast moving consumer goods (FMCGs). I have started by analysing the drivers behind the introduction of these industries, either through self-development within the country itself or foreign direct investment (FDI) from already industrialised nations- namely in the form of multinationals setting up affiliates. I have included a discussion of the benefits associated with either form of development to the country in question, as well as of the hindrances or unfavourable outcomes.

In looking for examples of the former form of industrialisation, I have looked at the rare historical example of South Korea, in particular seeing how governmental policy can nurture home-grown companies that have gone on to succeed on the international stage. The feasibility of such success being repeated today by other countries is to be included as well.
A critical review of the role of multinationals has also been carried out, namely how they can drive up production standards in the countries in question as well as improve the quality of life for their citizens- though this is balanced by less philanthropic considerations such as access to lower production costs, Jess stringent environmental regulations as well as access to domestic markets. The prospects of the driving down of labour and environmental standards- a "race to the bottom" - are also considered by looking at examples in Mexico, India, China and Eastern Europe (still to be carried out).

With this in mind, I plan to critically analyse the "social development" statements of a number of multinationals involved in the chemicals industry and, by submission time, I hope to have produced a list of indicators by which I can then rank these companies by their performance in this arena. I am also including a section on how developing countries that are wealthy in terms of natural resources can and should benefit- but how they often do not- by taldng the example of oil.
During my time spent on this dissertation, I have encountered a few hindrances- it has been exceedingly difficult to get detailed information on particular industrial sites from the multinational companies themselves. Hence I have had to expand the scope of my project from looking at single developments to a more general discussion. Even then, I have been unable to obtain information from the multinationals that is anything more than what could be considered glossy and (more often than not) superficial- this has led me to search for information from independent publications or NGOs. Though this has been fruitful, I have found the process often frustrating and highly time-consuming.

By the time this dissertation is due, I expect to have produced the aforementioned Jist of indicators for multinationals, as well as one for the countries themselves- resulting in recommendations for how both parties should be able to enjoy a "win-win" outcome.



Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.