A critical analysis of absorptive capacity research

Chams Eddoha Mokhlis, Nada Soudi, Hajar Mouatassim Lahmini, Asmaa Elmortada


The ability to absorb new external knowledge (ACAP) becomes a major source of innovation and competitive advantage. Despite the abundance of literature devoted to this concept, it remains shrouded in conceptual and empirical confusion. In this paper, we will attempt to shed light on this construct. Based on a thematic analysis of this literature, we identify five main themes covered by absorptive capacity research, such as: conceptualizations of ACAP, dimensions, measurement scales, main antecedents and organizational outputs of ACAP. The results show that, despite the efforts made in this field, the variety of conceptualizations, the diversity of measures used, the focus on “Content” of knowledge at the expense of “Processes”, “IT Systems” and “Context” of their integration, restrict our understanding of this concept. The paper then addresses some limitations of that works, and discusses avenues for future researches.


Absorptive capacity; measurement scales; knowledge management processes; innovation; Organizational outputs

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21533/pen.v8i3.1650


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ISSN: 2303-4521

Digital Object Identifier DOI: 10.21533/pen

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License