Absorptive Capacity in New Zealand Firms: Measurement and Importance

Motu Working Paper No. 18-01

56 Pages Posted: 3 May 2018

See all articles by Richard I. D. Harris

Richard I. D. Harris

University of Durham - Business School

Trinh Le

Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Trust

Date Written: February 22, 2018

Abstract

To the best of our knowledge, this paper reports the first set of nationally representative results on the importance of ‘absorptive capacity’. Absorptive capacity is generally defined as a firm's ability to internalise external knowledge. Using data principally from the New Zealand Business Operations Survey, we measure absorptive capacity across a 10-year period and investigate if it remains stable in the long term. This is followed by considering how firms’ characteristics vary across levels of absorptive capacity and most importantly whether such capacity determines firms’ productivity performance across the primary, manufacturing and service sectors. Our results show that relative to other influences, absorptive capacity as measured here has a substantial influence on exporting, innovation, and undertaking R&D. Set against relatively poor performance, the paper concludes with a discussion of how government should consider helping firms to boost their levels of absorptive capacity.

Keywords: Exports, R&D, Innovation, Absorptive Capacity

JEL Classification: L25, O24, O32, R11

Suggested Citation

Harris, Richard I. D. and Le, Trinh, Absorptive Capacity in New Zealand Firms: Measurement and Importance (February 22, 2018). Motu Working Paper No. 18-01, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3164041 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3164041

Richard I. D. Harris

University of Durham - Business School ( email )

Durham, DH1 3HY
United Kingdom

Trinh Le (Contact Author)

Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Trust ( email )

Level 1, 93 Cuba Street
P.O. Box 24390
Wellington, 6142
New Zealand

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