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Antecedents of absorptive capacity: a new model for developing learning processes

Mohammad Rezaei-Zadeh (Department of Management, London School of Commerce, London, United Kingdom)
Tamer K Darwish (Univeristy of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham, United Kingdom)

The Learning Organization

ISSN: 0969-6474

Article publication date: 11 January 2016




The purpose of this paper is to provide an integrated framework to indicate which antecedents of absorptive capacity (AC) influence its learning processes, and to propose testing of this model in future work.


Relevant literature into the antecedents of AC was critically reviewed and analysed with the objective of categorising and explaining the influence of AC on learning processes, including exploratory, transformative and exploitative learning.


By considering the level of learning, the proposed model demonstrates that the antecedents of AC vary, comprising exploratory, transformative and exploitative learning processes. Moreover, this study reveals the complex interplay between the antecedents of AC.

Research limitations/implications

The proposed model was developed theoretically, thus pending further empirical validation according to environmental turbulence, knowledge characteristics and modes of governance. This study also urges researchers to explore whether or not the antecedents of AC differ based on organisational outcomes.

Practical implications

The model can be put into a testable template for use by researchers. It further guides managers in developing effective processes for learning to use external knowledge.


It is the first work to schematically bring together and discuss the antecedents of AC and its influence on learning processes, and further provides a framework capable of facilitating the empirical testing of this nexus.



The authors are indebted to the Editor of this Journal and two anonymous referees whose detailed constructive comments and suggestions helped them improve the paper. All shortcomings are those of the authors.


Rezaei-Zadeh, M. and Darwish, T.K. (2016), "Antecedents of absorptive capacity: a new model for developing learning processes", The Learning Organization, Vol. 23 No. 1, pp. 77-91.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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