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Enriching Absorptive Capacity through Social Interaction

Hotho, J, Becker-Ritterspach, F and Saka-Helmhout, A (2011) Enriching Absorptive Capacity through Social Interaction British Journal of Management, 23 (3). pp. 383-401.

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Absorptive capacity is frequently highlighted as a key determinant of knowledge transfer within multinational enterprises. But how individual behaviour translates into absorptive capacity at the subsidiary level, and how this is contingent on subsidiaries’ social context, remains under-addressed. This not only limits our understanding of the relationship between individual- and organizational-level absorptive capacity, but also hampers further research on potentially relevant managerial and organizational antecedents, and limits the implications we can draw for practitioners who seek to increase their organization’s capacity to put new knowledge to use. To address this shortcoming we conduct an in-depth comparative case study of a headquarters-initiated knowledge transfer at two subsidiaries of the same multinational enterprise. The findings demonstrate that social interaction is a prerequisite for subsidiary absorptive capacity as it enables employees to participate in the transformation of new knowledge to the local context and the development of local applications. The findings also illustrate how organizational conditions at the subsidiary level can impact subsidiary absorptive capacity by enabling or constraining local interaction patterns. These insights contribute to the absorptive capacity literature by demonstrating the scale and scope of social interaction as a key link between individualand organizational-level absorptive capacity.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Surrey Business School
Authors :
Hotho, J
Becker-Ritterspach, F
Saka-Helmhout, A
Date : 22 June 2011
DOI : 10.1111/j.1467-8551.2011.00749.x
Copyright Disclaimer : This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Hotho, J. J., Becker-Ritterspach, F. and Saka-Helmhout, A. (2012), Enriching Absorptive Capacity through Social Interaction. British Journal of Management, 23: 383–401. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8551.2011.00749.x, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
Uncontrolled Keywords : absorptive capacity, social interaction, subsidiary learning
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 24 Aug 2012 10:53
Last Modified : 04 Jul 2017 08:32

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