Vol 8, No 3 (2020)

Scientific Absorptive Capacity: The Role of Corporate Scientists as Micro-Foundations of Innovation Capability

Ramin Vandaie


Purpose. The purpose of this study is to explain the connection between firms’ investment in basic scientific research and their innovation performance. Basic research and its outcomes generally belong to the public domain and are accessible to all interested parties. Yet, private firms’ engagement in it, as we argue, helps create absorptive capacity needed to access and benefit from cutting edge knowledge created outside their organizational boundaries. Design/methodology/approach. This is a conceptual paper dedicated to the development of a contingent theoretical framework to link firm investments in basic scientific research to their ability for form and benefit from external knowledge access collaborations. The developed theoretical model draws from extant empirical literature on the role of basic research in firm innovation including anecdotal observations that hint at managerial intentions behind their encouragement of corporate scientists to engage in basic research, particularly in collaboration with external scientists. Findings. The model suggests two sets of mechanisms as part of a contingent theory of the role of scientific absorptive capacity in driving external knowledge sourcing of firms. Whereas the first set of contingencies is based on the nature of the firm’s scientific research activities, the second set focuses on other internal firm processes that may suppress or substitute the effect of the resultant absorptive capacity. Research limitations/implications. As a conceptual paper, this study is limited in that it relies on insights from prior literature and the verification of its proposed relationships would require future empirical investigations. Yet, the theoretical insights developed here could pave the way for more fruitful future inquiries into the nature of basic scientific research in the private sector and enhance our understanding of how science fits into firms’ overall innovation strategy. Originality/value. As one of the first studies to elaborate on the concept of scientific absorptive capacity, this paper not only contributes to the burgeoning literature on the process of absorptive capacity development in firms, it also offers insights for practitioners regarding the effective management of the research and development process inside their firms.

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Scientific research; Knowledge accessing; Absorptive capacity; Firm innovation.

Publication information

Volume 8, Issue 3
Year of Publication: 2020
ISSN: 1857 - 8721
Publisher: EDNOTERA

How to cite

Vandaie, R.: Scientific Absorptive Capacity: The Role of Corporate Scientists as Micro-Foundations of Innovation Capability. Journal of Applied Economics and Business, Vol 8, No. 3, 31-50. (2020)