A measure of absorptive capacity: Scale development and validation

Tessa C. Flatten, Andreas Engelen, Shaker A. Zahra, Malte Brettel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

288 Scopus citations


Academic interest in absorptive capacity (ACAP), which has grown rapidly over the past two decades, has focused on ACAP's effect on organizational learning, knowledge sharing, innovation, capability building, and firm performance. Even though Cohen and Levinthal's work (1990) highlights the multidimensionality of ACAP, researchers have measured it as a uni-dimensional construct, often using a firm's R&D spending intensity as a proxy for this construct. This practice raises questions about the veracity of the claims made in the literature about the nature and contributions of ACAP. The present study develops and validates a multidimensional measure of ACAP, building on relevant prior literature, a series of pre-tests, and two large survey-based studies of German companies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-116
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Management Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2011


  • Absorptive capacity
  • Scale development
  • Survey-based research

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