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How absorptive capacity influences project performance

Ronaldo Gomes Dultra-de-Lima (Social and Applied Sciences Center, Mackenzie Presbyterian University, São Paulo, Brazil) (Department of Production Engineering, University Center FEI, Sao Bernardo do Campo, Brazil)
Luiz Artur Ledur Brito (Operations Department, Sao Paulo Business School, Fundação Getúlio Vargas, FGV-EAESP, Sao Paulo, Brazil)

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

ISSN: 1753-8378

Article publication date: 29 November 2022




The absorptive capacity (AC) leads to firm performance and influences the development and evolution of capabilities and routines, but the influence of AC in projects remains unclear. Therefore, this study aims to investigate the effect of AC on project performance (PP) in the construction industry of Sao Paulo State, Brazil.


The authors conducted a survey questionnaire with project managers and collected 157 responses in the construction sector. They also used confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and multiple linear regression techniques to assess the data.


The study provides empirical evidence that realized absorptive capacity (RAC) has a direct and indirect positive effect on PP. Conversely, the potential absorptive capacity (PAC) only indirectly impacts PP through project management practices (PMPs). PAC and RAC positively influence PMPs that in turn positively influence PP. The findings reinforce the relevance of AC to the development of internal knowledge for processes and routines, thereby enhancing PP.

Practical implications

The findings provide practical implications: the AC influences PP by refining and adapting routines. Moreover, the consistent application of accepted practices is not enough for PP, but the ability to adapt, adjust and transform the relevant knowledge into routines.


This paper provides empirical evidence that the knowledge application of PMPs improves organizational performance through PP. However, despite what the literature has discussed, this paper proved that AC has no effect as a moderating factor between PMPs and performance; however, AC's role significantly impacts PP through PMPs.



The authors wish to thank the Reviewers for their valuable contributions, which made it possible to improve the article for publication and Prof. Diógenes de Souza Bido from Mackenzie Presbyterian University for his valuable insights in Multivariate Analysis.


Dultra-de-Lima, R.G. and Brito, L.A.L. (2022), "How absorptive capacity influences project performance", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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