Firm absorptive capacity: multidimensionality, drivers and contextual conditions

Nazim Hussain, Waheed Akbar Bhatti, Sana Akbar Khan, Ahmad Arslan*, Shlomo Yedidia Tarba

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper aims to enrich absorptive capacity literature by specifically highlighting and adding environmental conditions and internationalisation process to the original conceptualisation.

Design/methodology/approach: The authors undertake a conceptual analysis and present an enhanced framework of absorptive capacity by integrating multiple literature streams. The authors have analysed the most relevant literature to provide underlying justifications for the proposed conceptual model.

Findings: Absorptive capacity ensures the long-term survival and success of a business. To develop absorptive capacity successfully, firms should focus on its various dimensions and existing intangible assets and external environment. The multidimensionality and richness of absorptive capacity is an under-explored area in the existing literature. The authors revisit the conceptualisation of absorptive capacity and add environmental conditions and the internationalisation process to the original conceptualisation. Absorptive capacity does not lead to a competitive advantage independent of its environment. To successfully develop it, firms have to adopt a holistic approach by considering the multi-dimensions, drivers and contextual conditions of absorptive capacity.

Originality/value: This study contributes by conceptualising absorptive capacity as a dynamic capability. It is one of the first studies to specifically propose a framework that combines antecedents (prior knowledge, combinative capabilities and IT capabilities), moderators (environmental conditions, namely, market and technological turbulence, competitiveness and the internationalisation process) and consequences (competitive advantage). The study offers a unique conceptualisation with implications for researchers and managers. As a result, managers will have a well-defined blueprint to create value by using firm capabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2718-2742
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Knowledge Management
Issue number10
Early online date1 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Combinative capabilities
  • Environmental conditions
  • Information-Technology capabilities
  • Multidimensionality
  • Potential absorptive capacity
  • Prior related knowledge
  • Realised absorptive capacity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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