PurposeAbsorptive capacity being an emerging field of research has been studied in different perspectives both in technological aspects and soft issues. Although an original study of absorptive capacity placed employees as playing pivoting role in the development of absorptive capacity (Cohen and Levinthal, 1990), unfortunately, there are limited studies on behavior of employees toward this emerging construct. This study aims to explore the impact of employees’ behavior in the development of absorptive capacity. Specifically, impact of knowledge sharing, learning adaptability and organizational commitment on absorptive capacity has been evaluated in this study.Design/methodology/approachThis cross-sectional study was conducted at the pharmaceutical firms of Pakistan. The data were collected through random sampling from middle managers as a unit of analysis of this study. The rationale of the unit of analysis is that the maximum information is handled/accessed by the middle managers in the perspective of Pakistan. The data were collected from 170 respondents on a five-point Likert scale with the response rate of 66.7 per cent. Data were collected from different genders and different age groups with different qualification levels.FindingsAll independent variables showed significant positive correlations with overall absorptive capacity (ACAP). At the same time, different relationships of all independent variables were found in different ways with different significant levels. The results showed that different strategies may be adopted to manage the external knowledge for competition in turbulent environment. For example, organizational commitment may be incorporated at strategy formulation only, whereas the Adaptability at both routine and strategy formulation stage. As all independent variables showed no correlation with Acquisition it is concluded that Acquisition is purely a routine function, and instead of coordination, the routine processes must be emphasized.Research limitations/implicationsThis study focused on the data from the middle managers of the pharmaceutical firms only. The results may not be generalized to the sectors. Another limitation is that the respondents of the study were middle managers. It was made intentional to see the impact of management aspects other than organizational mechanisms, as discussed by Cohen and Levinthal (1990) and Jansen et al. (2005) in their studies. The results on the basis of the data collected from other entities of the organization may differ. This is a cross-sectional study, and a longitudinal study may give different results.Practical implicationsAbsorptive capacity has the capability to absorb new knowledge and plays an important role in the development of organizational processes to compete in the turbulent environment. It is dependent not only on technological infrastructure but also on the employees’ behaviors and attitudes. This study gives insights about the knowledge process activities and employment of human resource at each phase of absorptive capacity in relation to their behaviors toward knowledge process.Social implicationsDevelopment of organizational process with knowledge management plays an important role in the capacity building, which ultimately enhances social paradigm of activities.Originality/valuePharmaceutical companies in Pakistan acquire technologies from foreign countries and have very limited research and development of their own. As technology is upgraded by the foreign companies as a continuous improvement process, local firms of Pakistan are required to absorb the new knowledge with the same pace. The study highlights importance of human capital in the development of this capability.
Journal of Knowledge Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 8, 2018
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