Absorptive capacity, socially enabling mechanisms, and the role of learning from trial and error experiments: A tribute to Dan Levinthal’s contribution to international business research
The concept of absorptive capacity (AC) of firms (Cohen and Levinthal 1989 and 1990) is a foundational feature of organizational learning and adaptation that has had enormous influence in international business (IB), and innovation studies and management research in general. In this tribute to Dan Levinthal, we discuss the close connection between AC and learning – two areas central to Dan Levinthal’s research – in relation to different contexts where AC comes into play in extant IB research. We discuss four specific aspects of the nexus of AC and learning in the context of IB: (1) bridging between intra- and inter-firm learning; (2) a routine-based framing of AC that emphasizes processes and capabilities underlying seeking, assimilating, and innovation in a global setting; (3) the role of socially enabling mechanisms, and (4) the logic of learning through trial and error experiments within firms and countries.
Lewin, AY; Massini, S; Peeters, C
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