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.