PurposeThis study aims to advance and test a multi-dimensional operationalization of absorptive capacity (ACAP) to ascertain its mediating role in the transformation of R&D expenses in actual performance.Design/methodology/approachThis study departs from the conceptualization of ACAP as a reflective higher-order R&D-based construct, by specifying ACAP into its components and using an operationalization that encompasses both R&D and non-R&D measures to perform mediation analysis on a sample of 1,096 Chinese mainland firms.FindingsThis study's findings report evidence of positive but different roles of the components of ACAP, with specific reference to the positive but partial mediating role of realized ACAP between both R&D expenses and potential ACAP on a firm’s performance. Relevant research and practical implications for both management and policymaking are discussed.Originality/valueThe approach to ACAP conceptualization and measurement taken in this study provides empirical support to an often assumed and, incidentally, under-explored relationship. Moreover, it contributes with a multi-dimensional, non-exclusively R&D-based and process-oriented perspective to the analysis of the role played by ACAP in Chinese firms’ R&D effectiveness.
Measuring Business Excellence – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 16, 2016