The team absorptive capacity triad: a configurational study of individual, enabling, and motivating factors

Sandor Löwik, Jeroen Kraaijenbrink, Aard Groen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: The paper aims to understand how knowledge-intensive teams can develop and enhance their team absorptive capacity (ACAP) level, by exploring whether individual and organizational factors are complements or substitutes for team ACAP.

Design/methodology/approach: The study applies a configurational approach using fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis to identify combinations of individual and team factors that are associated with team ACAP. Data were gathered through a survey among 297 employees of four medium-sized Dutch firms, working in 48 functional teams.

Findings: The primary finding is that knowledge-intensive team ACAP depends on a triad of complementary factors: team members’ individual ACAP, factors that enable knowledge integration and factors that motivate knowledge integration. Underdevelopment of one or more factors leads to lower team ACAP.

Research limitations/implications: The study contributes to the discussion on the locus of knowledge-creation and enhances understandings of why knowledge-intensive teams differ in knowledge processing capabilities. It suggests future research on cross-functional teams in new ventures and large firms.

Practical implications: The paper informs managers and team leaders about the factors that determine knowledge-intensive teams’ ACAP, enabling them to develop team-specific strategies to increase their teams’ performance.

Originality/value: The study takes a holistic perspective on knowledge-intensive team ACAP by using a configurational approach. It also highlights the potential of team-level research in the knowledge management literature for both researchers and practitioners.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1083-1103
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of knowledge management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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