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The absorptive capacity of family firms - how familiness affects potential and realized absorptive capacity
University of Skövde, School of Business. University of Skövde, Enterprises for the Future. (Strategiskt Entreprenörskap)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5408-413X
2015 (English)In: Journal of Family Business Management, ISSN 2043-6238, E-ISSN 2043-6246, Vol. 5, no 1, 73-89 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]


Absorptive capacity is a key competitive advantage and is defined as the capacity to absorb knowledge from the environment. Although some studies have examined how various antecedents to absorptive capacity differ between family firms and non-family firms, no studies have set out to specifically analyze absorptive capacity in the context of family firms. This paper discusses the ability of family firms to absorb external knowledge by analyzing the relationship between “familiness” and “absorptive capacity”.


By reviewing and combining studies on absorptive capacity and knowledge-management practices of family firms, new insights into the absorptive capacity of family firms are developed.


It is argued that due to higher levels of social capital, familiness is positively related to the ability to transform and use external knowledge (i.e. realized absorptive capacity). However, firms with high levels of familiness are likely to be inferior in acquiring and assimilating external knowledge (i.e. potential absorptive capacity).


Although previous studies have analyzed various knowledge-management practices of family firms, no studies have set out to specifically explore how familiness affects various dimensions of absorptive capacity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2015. Vol. 5, no 1, 73-89 p.
Keyword [en]
Knowledge management, Absorptive capacity, Familiness, Family firms, Potential absorptive capacity, Realized absorptive capacity
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Humanities and Social sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:his:diva-10732DOI: 10.1108/JFBM-05-2014-0012OAI: diva2:797716
Available from: 2015-03-24 Created: 2015-03-10 Last updated: 2016-06-23Bibliographically approved

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