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Track 3.1 - Knowledge management and absorptive capacity in the age of digital transformation

Lorenzo ARDITO, Ph.D., Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome, 
Elisabetta RAGUSEO, Ph.D., Polytechnic of Turin, 
Roberto CERCHIONE, Ph.D., University of Naples "Parthenope"
Erica MAZZOLA, Ph.D., University of Palermo

Track's Contacts : 


Digitalization has created a new level of fluidity in innovation processes, as reflected by the opportunity to further open firms’ boundaries for external knowledge sourcing to innovate, however asking firms to rethink the ways they can effectively exploit external knowledge, and the way they can achieve benefits or incur in risks given the usage of digital technologies [1]. This highlights the growing significance of incorporating the features of digital technology into theories about organizational learning in innovation management. Particularly, the absorptive capacity (ACAP) construct has been used in diverse and sometimes contradictory ways when related to digital innovation processes [1,2], which may lead to an inappropriate use of this construct and, hence, biased insights for (digital) innovation managers.

Therefore, the main objective of the proposed track is to revisit the concept of knowledge management and the construct of absorptive capacity in light of the digital transformation occurring within companies, such as the usage of Internet of Things solutions, which enable to capture external data of different nature, and machine learning solutions which allow to access data and “learn”. Drawing on knowledge management (KM) and ACAP theories we encourage papers that examine novel phenomena, employ original methodologies, and offer interesting theoretical and empirical contribution to this research theme. The potential topics for this special track may include, but are not limited to papers :

- Analyzing large and small and medium highly-innovative firms that are experienced in relying on digital innovation processes and sourcing knowledge from external sources.
- Revisiting the existing theories of KM and the models of ACAP in light of the different digital technologies firms may potentially adopt to acquire, assimilate, transform, and apply external knowledge.
- Unveiling the emergence and influence of new knowledge management systems based on digital solutions
- Focusing on the degree of implementation of digital technologies to assess the influence of digitalization ACAP in order to scrutinize how digital solutions are now being employed to manage external knowledge and what the constraints, advantages, opportunities and threats are.
- Exploring the impact of digital technologies and IoT on incumbent corporations and SMEs operating in traditional sectors.
- Examining the impact of the digitization of knowledge management processes on organizational, innovative, and financial performance
- Understanding whether the concept of traditional absorptive capacity is evolving in a new concept of ACAP in light of the digital transformation for managing external knowledge.
- Understanding how ACAP’s processes and routines influence (external) knowledge management and innovation performance.
- Examining whether and how digital technologies affect the knowledge management processes underlying each component of ACAP (acquisition, assimilation, transformation, and application) and, in turn, whether and how they enable/constrain KM and innovation performance.
- Understanding how digital transformation is impacting on the human capital in the context of SMEs and large corporations by exploring perspectives of HR management, leadership and competencies creation and destroying.

[1] S. Nambisan, k. lyytinen, A. Majchrzak et al., Digital Innovation Management: Reinventing Innovation Management Research in a Digital World, 2017.
[2] N. Roberts, P. S. Galluch, M. Dinger et al., “Absorptive Capacity and Information Systems Research: Review, Synthesis, and Directions for Future Research,” MIS Quarterly, vol. 36, no. 2, pp.
625-648, 2012.