Absorptive Capacity and Source-Recipient Complementarity in Designing New Products: An Empirically Derived Framework

C. Abecassis-Moedas, S. BEN MAHMOUD-JOUINI

Journal of Product Innovation Management

2008, vol. 25, n°5, pp.473-490

Departments: Information Systems and Operations Management, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Numerous publications are dedicated to absorptive capacity and new product development (NPD). Most are centered on the recipient team, and very few consider the effects of the source team knowledge characteristics on the knowledge absorption and the NPD performance. This paper analyzes the type of the external knowledge sourced from outside the organization and the process through which it is used by the recipient firm and the effect on NPD performance. This is done through a specific type of source team knowledge, the design, and through the NPD process in industries (clothing and construction) where it plays a key role. NPD cases were analyzed and clustered in three categories of design absorption processes. From these categories, a conceptual framework of the source-recipient knowledge complementarity and its impact on the NPD performance is proposed. The main result is that the complementarity between the recipient and the source knowledge is a critical aspect of the absorption process and therefore of the NPD performance. From a managerial perspective, this research highlights the role of design in the NPD process and how the combination of design knowledge with prior knowledge (marketing or technological) is related to NPD performance.