ABSTRACT Purpose: The objective of this study is to understand how the process of absorptive capacity (ACAP) is developed, by analyzing the behaviors and abilities of a group of companies, their routines and processes and the mechanisms of learning and knowledge governance. The companies operate in the metal mechanics sector and they are based in the southern region of Brazil. Originality/value: The relevance consists of the operationalization of component elements and in the development of organizational mechanisms of dynamic capacity (Meirelles & Camargo, 2014), as means of ACAP development (Wang & Ahmed, 2007) in organizations belonging to the metal mechanics sector. Design/methodology/approach: It is a qualitative, exploratory and descriptive empirical research, carried out by a multiple case study. It seeks to investigate in detail three organizations of the metal mechanics sector, by analyzing the procedures, resources, mechanisms, and systems, which makes it possible for them to develop absorptive capacities. Content analysis was performed in order to analyze the data. Findings: The researched companies develop absorptive capacity through some behaviors and abilities, such as relationship capacity, learning capacity, and people’s training capacity, and through routines and processes, especially information search routines, market monitoring routines and risk management. Finally, the researched companies develop absorptive capacity by learning mechanisms and knowledge governance, such as researches, information exchange among clients, suppliers and other companies.