Technology Transfer across Organizational Boundaries: Absorptive Capacity and Desorptive Capacity

by Ulrich Lichtenthaler, Eckhard Lichtenthaler

Fall 2010

Volume 53
Issue 1

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In light of the trend towards open innovation, interorganizational technology transfer by means of alliances and licensing has often become a key component of open innovation processes. Inbound open innovation describes inward technology transfer, whereas outbound open innovation refers to outward technology transfer. Traditionally, inward technology transfer has received considerable attention because most practitioners and academics focus on the technology recipient’s absorptive capacity. In contrast, the role of the technology source has been relatively neglected. This article addresses the concept of desorptive capacity, which refers to a firm’s ability to identify technology transfer opportunities and to transfer technology to the recipient. The notion of market knowledge in the concept of desorptive capacity deepens our understanding of many firms’ managerial difficulties in implementing active technology transfer strategies. Thus, desorptive capacity enriches our understanding of the dynamics of outward technology transfer. It provides new insights into the success or failure of interorganizational technology transactions.

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