Impact of Enterprise Innovation Network Characteristics on Relationship Learning: Mediating Effect of Absorptive Capacity

  • Xue YangEmail author
  • Huan Wang
  • Xin Gu
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 1191)


Through analyzing the relationship among innovation network characteristics, enterprise absorptive capacity and relationship learning, this study constructs a theoretical model about the impact of enterprise innovation network characteristics on relationship learning, and further introduces absorptive capacity as a mediating variable to discuss the mechanism among them. Based on a sample data of 205 questionnaires, the empirical results show that the relationship strength and relationship quality of enterprise innovation network characteristics have positive impact on relationship learning. Three dimensions of absorptive capacity, namely, knowledge acquisition capacity, knowledge digestion capacity and knowledge application capacity, have positive effects on relationship learning. Among the characteristics of enterprise innovation network, network size, network centrality and relationship quality have positive influence on absorptive capacity of enterprises. Knowledge acquisition capacity, knowledge digestion capacity and knowledge application capacity play a partial mediating role in the influence of relationship strength and relationship quality on relationship learning.


Innovation network characteristics Absorptive capacity Relationship learning 



This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China [grant number 71904137] and Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China [grant number 18YJC630227].


  1. 1.
    Chang, M.L., Cheng, C.F., Wu, W.Y.: How buyer-seller relationship quality influences adaptation and innovation by foreign MNCs’ subsidiaries. Ind. Mark. Manag. 41(7), 1047–1057 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Chesbrough, H.W.: Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology. Harvard Business Press, Brighton (2003)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cohen, W.M., Levinthal, D.A.: Absorptive capacity: a new perspective on learning and innovation. Adm. Sci. Q. 35(1), 128–152 (1990)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Dhanaraj, C., Lyles, M.A., et al.: Managing tacit and explicit knowledge transfer in IJVs: the role of relational embeddedness and the impact on performance. J. Int. Bus. Stud. 35(5), 428–442 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Dyer, J.H., Singh, H.: The relational view: cooperative strategy and sources of interorganizational competitive advantage. Acad. Manag. Rev. 23(4), 660–679 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Frazier, B.J., Huddleston, P.: The role of market embeddedness in market scanning and marketing competence. J. Small Bus. Entrep. 22(2), 165–180 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Hongbin, D., Zhengbin, W.: An empirical study on the network structure’s impact to the firm growth performance: the intermediary role of exploitative learning and explorative learning. Nankai Bus. Rev. 14(3), 15–25 (2011). (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Ibarra, H.: Network centrality, power, and innovation involvement: determinants of technical and administrative roles. Acad. Manag. J. 36(3), 471–501 (1993)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Jansen, J.J., Van Den Bosch, F.A., Volberda, H.W.: Managing potential and realized absorptive capacity: how do organizational antecedents matter? Acad. Manag. J. 48(6), 999–1015 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Lai, C.S., Pai, D.C., et al.: The effects of market orientation on relationship learning and relationship performance in industrial marketing: the dyadic perspectives. Ind. Mark. Manag. 38(2), 166–172 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Lavie, D.: Alliance portfolios and firm performance: a study of value creation and appropriation in the US software industry. Strat. Manag. J. 28(12), 1187–1212 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Lenox, M., King, A.: Prospects for developing absorptive capacity through internal information provision. Strat. Manag. J. 25(4), 331–345 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Liu, C.L.: An investigation of relationship learning in cross-border buyer-supplier relationships: the role of trust. Int. Bus. Rev. 21(3), 311–327 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Lyles, M.A., Salk, J.E.: Knowledge acquisition from foreign parents in international joint ventures: an empirical examination in the Hungarian context. J. Int. Bus. Stud. 27(5), 877–903 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Madani, F., Daim, T., Weng, C.: ‘Smart building’ technology network analysis: applying core-periphery structure analysis. Int. J. Manag. Sci. Eng. Manag. 12(1), 1–11 (2017)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Nan, G., Wei, J., Hu, H.: Analysis of the multi-agent’s relationship in collaborative innovation network for science and technology SEMs based on evolutionary game theory. Int. J. Inf. Tchnology Manag. 18(1), 1–15 (2019)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Nasierowski, W., Arcelus, F.J.: Interrelationships among the elements of national innovation systems: a statistical evaluation. Eur. J. Oper. Res. 119(2), 235–253 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Rampersad, G., Quester, P., Troshani, I.: Developing and evaluating scales to assess innovation networks. Int. J. Technol. Intell. Plan. 5(4), 402–420 (2009)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Ren, S., Wu, J., Wang, L.W.: A study on network embeddedness and enterprise’s innovation performance: test of the moderating effect of network competence. R&D Manag. 23, 16–24 (2011). (in chinese)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Selnes, F., Sallis, J.: Promoting relationship learning. J. Mark. 67(3), 80–95 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Sun, Y., Wang, T., Gu, X.: A sustainable development perspective on cooperative culture, knowledge flow, and innovation network governance performance. Sustainability 11(21), 6126 (2019)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Uzzi, B.: Social structure and competition in interfirm networks: the paradox of embeddedness. Adm. Sci. Q. 42(1), 35–67 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Vera, D., Crossan, M.: Strategic leadership and organizational learning. Acad. Manag. Rev. 29(2), 222–240 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Wang, H., Zhao, Y., et al.: Network centrality and innovation performance: the role of formal and informal institutions in emerging economies. J. Bus. Ind. Mark. 34(6), 1388–1400 (2019)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Ye, Z., Zheng, J.: Network characteristics and corporate entrepreneurship of cluster enterprises: an empirical study based on entrepreneurial competence. Sci. Res. Manag. 35(1), 58–65 (2014). (in Chinese)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Business School of Sichuan UniversityChengduPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations