If companies rely strongly on internal R&D and existing networks their ability to introduce radical innovations may suffer. Opening up to new idea sources may provide a solution. Incumbent companies, however, often suffer from the tendency to reject radical ideas from unusual sources. This study investigates how social integration mechanisms (coordination, socialisation, and systems mechanisms) influence an incumbent steel company’s absorptive capacity (AC). A micro-level analysis of two radical ideas from unusual sources contributes to AC and radical innovation literatures by exploring relationships between social integration mechanisms and four AC capabilities (acquisition, assimilation, transformation, and exploitation). The findings suggest that AC capabilities are context specific with respect to innovation novelty and idea source. The results emphasize the negative sides of socialisation and formalisation mechanisms, and the positive effects of coordination mechanisms on the AC capabilities in such high uncertainty contexts.
- absorptive capacity
- radical innovation
- technology & innovation studies
- case study