Workshop on Absorptive Capacity: Conceptual and Empirical Issues

Friday, 23 June 2017

Council Room, Birkbeck’s Main Building, Malet Street

Following the seminal work by Cohen and Levinthal the concept of absorptive capacity has been used extensively in innovation studies. Yet its conceptualization and its operationalization are far from agreed on in the literature. While most works apply the concept at the firm level – the level to which was originally applied to by Cohen and Levinthal – an increasing number of works have tried to apply it at the macro level. Whichever the level it is applied at, the concept and its operationalization have implications for policies at either the macro or micro level or at both.

This workshop aims to stimulate discussion on as many as possible of the following issues:

  1. Conceptualization at macro and micro levels: what do we mean by absorptive capacity and why is it relevant?
  2. How do we operationalize the concept? Is operationalization to be different at macro and micro levels?
  3. What are the policy implications of absorptive capacity and how are they related to our conceptualization and operationalization?

Workshop programme

10:00 – 10:15 Registration and Coffee

10:15 – 10:30 Welcome Address by Helen Lawton Smith, Director of the Centre for Innovation Management Research, Birkbeck

10:30 – 11:15 Presentation:  Developing indicators of absorptive capacity, Marion Frenz and Grazia Ietto-Gillies, Centre for Innovation Management Research, Birkbeck

11:15 – 12:00 Presentation: Realizing potential: the effect of absorptive capacity on organizational performance under environmental dynamism and exposure, Abderaouf Bouguerra, Warwick Business School, Warwick University

12:00 – 13:00 Lunch

13:00 – 13:45 Presentation: The appropriation of absorptive capacity: a cross-country analysis on the role of institutions, Lance Cosaert, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University

13:45 – 14:30 Presentation: Knowledge context, learning and innovation: an integrating framework, Stephen Roper, Enterprise Research Centre and Warwick Business School, Warwick University

14:30 – 15:00 Coffee

15:00-16:30 Round-table discussion: Absorptive capacity: measurements and implications for policy, Chair: Daniele Archibugi, Centre for Innovation Management Research, Birkbeck

Participants: Davide Castellani, University of Reading; Slavo Radosevic, University College London, Ray Lambert, Centre for Innovation Management Research, Birkbeck,

16:30-17:00 Summing up and farewell, Jeremy Howells, Kellogg College, University of Oxford

Marion Frenz,
Grazia Ietto-Gillies,