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Exploring the antecedents of potential absorptive capacity and its impact on innovation performance

  • Fosfuri, Andrea
  • Tribø, Josep A.

This paper builds upon the theoretical framework developed by Zahra and George [Absorptive capacity: a review, reconceptualization, and extension. Academy of Management Review 2002;27:185-203] to empirically explore the antecedents of potential absorptive capacity (PAC), i.e. the ability to identify and assimilate external knowledge flows. Based on a sample of 2464 innovative Spanish firms, we find evidence that R&D cooperation, external knowledge acquisition and experience with knowledge search are key antecedents of a firm's PAC. Also, during periods of important internal reshaping, when there are significant changes in strategy, design of the organization and marketing, firms exert more effort to accumulate PAC. Finally, we find that PAC is a source of competitive advantage in innovation, especially in the presence of efficient internal knowledge flows that help reduce the distance between potential and realized capacity.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Omega.

Volume (Year): 36 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 173-187

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jomega:v:36:y:2008:i:2:p:173-187
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  1. Rebecca Henderson, 1993. "Underinvestment and Incompetence as Responses to Radical Innovation: Evidence from the Photolithographic Alignment Equipment Industry," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(2), pages 248-270, Summer.
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  3. Bruno Cassiman & Reinhilde Veugelers, 2002. "R&D Cooperation and Spillovers: Some Empirical Evidence from Belgium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1169-1184, September.
  4. Hagedoorn, John & Cloodt, Myriam, 2003. "Measuring innovative performance: is there an advantage in using multiple indicators?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(8), pages 1365-1379, September.
  5. Arora, Ashish & Gambardella, Alfonso, 1994. "Evaluating technological information and utilizing it : Scientific knowledge, technological capability, and external linkages in biotechnology," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 91-114, June.
  6. Jaffe, Adam B & Trajtenberg, Manuel & Henderson, Rebecca, 1993. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 577-98, August.
  7. Henderson, Rebecca. & Cockburn, Iain., 1994. "Measuring competence? : exploring firm effects in pharmaceutical research," Working papers 3712-94., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  8. Vekstein, Daniel, 1998. "Managing Knowledge and Corporate Performance: an Empirical Analysis of the World Automobile Industry," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 551-568, October.
  9. Acs, Zoltan J & Audretsch, David B, 1988. "Innovation in Large and Small Firms: An Empirical Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 678-90, September.
  10. Jansen, J.J.P. & van den Bosch, F.A.J. & Volberda, H.W., 2005. "Managing Potential and Realized Absorptive Capacity: How do Organizational Antecedents matter?," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2005-025-STR, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
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