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Absorptive capacity in European manufacturing - a Delphi study

: Jung Erceg, P.; Pandza, K.; Armbruster, H.; Dreher, C.


Industrial management & data systems 107 (2007), Nr.1, S.37-51
ISSN: 0007-6929
ISSN: 0263-5577
Fraunhofer ISI ()
manufacturing industry; knowledge capture; Delphi method; Europe

Purpose: This paper sets out to discuss the results of a specific part of a Europe-wide Delphi study that considers issues of absorptive capacity in European manufacturing. Owing to the importance to competitiveness of increasing innovative capabilities in manufacturing it is highly relevant to explore how a wide community of manufacturing experts experience the phenomenon of absorptive capacity and sense future developments.
Design/methodology/approach: A two round Delphi method was designed in which more than 3,000 experts from 22 European countries assessed 101 statements. This paper discusses eight statements focused on the issue of absorptive capacity.
Findings: The results show a general consensus about the influence of different inter-firm relationships in acquiring external knowledge and a diversified knowledge structure for assimilating the acquired knowledge. The study also indicates some potential challenges and contradictions in managing inter-firm relationships and knowledge diversity as well as perceived barriers for future developments of absorptive capacity.
Research limitations/implications: Delphi survey is an empirical method subject to the limitation of testing or inductively building theoretical concepts.
Practical implications : The results of the Delphi study are predominantly centred on policy implication and on informing strategic decision-making at manufacturing firms.
Originality/value: This paper discusses one of the biggest Delphi surveys ever conducted in Europe. Its comprehensiveness increases the value of the results.