INFLUENCE OF ABSORPTIVE CAPACITY ON INNOVATION: A SYSTEMATIC LITERATURE REVIEW
ABSTRACT Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to reveal how quantitative empirical studies approach the direct influence of absorptive capacity (AC) on innovation. The AC research field continues to be subject to the phenomenon of reification, since it is still quite scattered. Originality/value: The article contributes to AC’s theoretical approach by compiling a set of forces with AC’s direct influence on innovation. This evaluation has revealed detailed information about this relationship, such as the AC approach used and situations in which it acts as a moderating force in a relationship. Thus, we suggest a structure of influence of AC on innovation. Design/methodology/approach: Systematic literature review based on Tranfield, Denyer, and Smart’s (2003) method was applied. From an initial sample of 231 articles, 37 empirical studies were selected for analysis. We analyzed the AC’s influence on innovation in each paper, as well as the forces that affect that influence. Findings: The results suggest that AC dynamic approach may become dominant within AC and innovation literature, as the number of studies that use this approach grows constantly. However, the validated measurement models proposed by several AC scholars are still underused by most studies. Many empirical studies tend to adapt existing measurement models according to idiosyncratic research needs. In addition, as expected, we identified that intra-firm factors might be as important as environmental factors in transforming firms’ AC into innovation.