Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationships among organizational learning, absorptive capacity, imitation and innovation in the Chinese context. Design/methodology/approach – Based on the organizational learning theory and innovation theory, the paper presents a framework linking organizational learning, absorptive capacity, imitation and innovation. Using a key informant technique, a survey questionnaire was designed and sent to the middle or top management managers of 115 firms located in Peking, People’s Republic (PR) of China. Structural equation modeling (SEM) with the maximum likelihood (ML) estimation procedures was applied to test the hypotheses developed in the research. Findings – The empirical results show that both organizational learning and absorptive capacity have positive impacts on innovation; imitation has a positive impact on absorptive capacity; absorptive capacity mediates the relationship between imitation and innovation. Practical implications – This study has implications for firms aiming to enhance innovation by organizational learning, absorptive capacity and imitation. Originality/value – Despite the number of studies concerning organizational learning, absorptive capacity, imitation and innovation, research that encompasses the interrelationships between the four concepts simultaneously remains scarce. The paper provides a framework linking organizational learning, imitation, absorptive capacity and innovation, and it advances the argument that absorptive capacity is an important factor in predicting the Chinese firms’ transition from imitation to innovation.
Chinese Management Studies – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 7, 2015
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