Title: Revisiting absorptive capacity from a design perspective

Authors: Pascal Le Masson; Patrick Cogez; Yacine Felk; Benoit Weil

Addresses: MINES Paristech, 60 boulevard Saint Michel, 75272 Paris Cedex 06, France ' STMicrolectronics, 850 Rue Jean Monnet, 38926 Crolles cedex, France; Grenoble Ecole de Management, 2 Rue Pierre Semard, 38000 Grenoble, France ' MINES Paristech, 60 boulevard Saint Michel, 75272 Paris Cedex 06, France; STMicrolectronics, 850 Rue Jean Monnet, 38926 Crolles cedex, France ' MINES Paristech, 60 boulevard Saint Michel, 75272 Paris Cedex 06, France

Abstract: We examine how teams working on radical innovation develop a novel type of absorptive capacity (AC) to make use of external knowledge. In the setting of the semiconductor industry we compare AC in incremental innovation and AC in radical innovation, relying on the most recent theory of design reasoning. We are led to propose a framework of how radical innovation teams leverage external knowledge using a specific type of AC. AC in incremental innovation can be described as 'epistemic absorptive capacity' (EAC), based on a stable set of design rules to address pre-identified problems; AC in radical innovation, which we label 'conceptual absorptive capacity' (CAC), is based on 'refined visions' with three facets: 1) 'rule-breaking', to move from known to out-of-the-box; 2) 'hook building', to overcome cognitive crises by linking the unknown to multiple cognitive references; 3) 'milieu stimulation', to support the creation of new knowledge in the milieu.

Keywords: radical innovation; design reasoning; semiconductors; external knowledge; semiconductor industry; incremental innovation; epistemic absorptive capacity; design rules; pre-identified problems; conceptual absorptive capacity; refined visions; rule-breaking; out-of-the-box; hook building; cognitive crises; multiple references; cognitive references; milieu stimulation; knowledge creation; new knowledge; STMicrolectronics; France; knowledge management; KM; organisational learning; strategic learning.

DOI: 10.1504/IJKMS.2012.051939

International Journal of Knowledge Management Studies, 2012 Vol.5 No.1/2, pp.10 - 44

Accepted: 05 Jul 2012
Published online: 05 Feb 2013 *

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