Title: The different modes for absorbing knowledge: an analytic lens on absorptive capacity from a process perspective

Authors: Roberto Filippini; Wolfgang H. Güttel; Paolo Neirotti; Anna Nosella

Addresses: Department of Managerial Engineering, University of Padova, Stradella San Nicola, 3, 36100, Vicenza, Italy ' Johannes Kepler University Linz, Institute of Human Resource and Change Management, Altenberger Strasse 69, 4040 Linz, Austria ' Department of Business and Production Engineering, Politecnico di Torino University, Corso Duca degli Abruzzi, 24, 10129, Turin, Italy ' Department of Managerial Engineering, University of Padova, Stradella San Nicola, 3, 36100, Vicenza, Italy

Abstract: Absorptive capacity is perceived as the firm's ability to extract external knowledge from the firm's environment. Despite numerous studies, little is known about the multifaceted processes with regard to how firms select knowledge from outside and embed it into the firm's knowledge base. In this paper we investigate, on the basis of exemplary case studies, the entire process with regard to how firms recognise new knowledge and how it is captured and incorporated. Our findings show that knowledge absorption is based on routines which govern knowledge selection and integration into the existing knowledge structure. Knowledge complexity shapes the routine's characteristics. The absorption of complex knowledge requires more interaction and connectedness between knowledge provider and receiver for developing a similar frame of reference that serves as a carrier of newly absorbed knowledge. Finally, firms need to deal with the paradox that simple routines enhance recognition of new knowledge while a complex set of routines facilitate its incorporation in the subsequent stages.

Keywords: organisational routines; process perspectives; external knowledge; knowledge base; new knowledge; knowledge capture; knowledge incorporation; knowledge absorption; routines; knowledge selection; knowledge integration; existing structures; knowledge structures; knowledge complexity; routine characteristics; complex knowledge; interaction; connectedness; knowledge providers; knowledge receivers; software firms; wine production; wineries; Italy; knowledge management; KM; organisational learning; strategic learning; absorptive capacity.

DOI: 10.1504/IJKMS.2012.051940

International Journal of Knowledge Management Studies, 2012 Vol.5 No.1/2, pp.45 - 65

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

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