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Absorptive and Desorptive Capacity Configurations in Supply Chains: An Inverted U-shaped Relationship

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

E-pub ahead of print
  • Maria Isabel Roldán Bravo
  • Mark Stevenson
  • Antonia Ruiz Moreno
  • Javier Llorens-Montes
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>16/07/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Production Research
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date16/07/19
Original languageEnglish


The extant literature has highlighted the importance of knowledge transfer between a buyer and its supply network for strengthening supply chain competence. This is a bi-directional exchange where the buyer and supply network each act as the sender and receiver of knowledge. Prior research has however largely focused on the knowledge recipient only. We consider both sender and recipient using two key dynamic capabilities related to knowledge transfer: (i) desorptive capacity, which enables the safe transfer of knowledge from the sender; and, (ii) absorptive capacity, which enables the acquisition and assimilation of external knowledge by the recipient. Using the concept of ‘fit’, we investigate whether organisations strengthen supply chain competence when their desorptive capacity exceeds that of their supply network's (positive misfit) and consider the moderating role of the organisation’s and supply network’s absorptive capacity. Multiple regression analysis of survey data from 250 firms identifies an inverted U-shaped relationship between positive desorptive capacity misfit and supply chain competence. Further, this relationship is shown to be moderated by the supply network’s absorptive capacity level. The paper furthers our understanding of supply chain knowledge management enabling buyers and their supply networks to achieve more successful knowledge transfer outcomes.