Assessing the Absorptive Capacity of Regional Innovation Systems: A Case Study of Lithuanian Regions

  • Vita Juknevičienė
  • Jurgita Mikolaitytė
  • Diana Šaparnienė
Part of the Advances in Spatial Science book series (ADVSPATIAL)


Absorptive capacity is considered a main precondition for regional innovativeness. However, each region is unique, and analyzing its innovativeness requires an appropriate methodology. Within scientific discussion on the concept of the “region”, most of the scientific research analyzing absorptive capacity tends to be conducted for large or highly developed regions. Small countries (such as Lithuania) are considered indivisible regional units; therefore, there is still a lack of research to provide specific tools that could be adapted to assess regional absorptive capacity in a small country. Taking this into consideration, this chapter’s objective is to present a methodology for assessing RIS absorptive capacity that has been adapted to the context of regions in a small country (Lithuania). Its goals are as follows: (1) to explain the concept of absorptive capacity in the context of a RIS; (2) to provide the theoretical background for assessing absorptive capacity; (3) to present a methodology for assessing absorptive capacity in a small country (Lithuania); and (4) to explain the main results of the research, which was conducted for RIS in Lithuania using the methodology presented here. The scientific research methods used were an analysis of scientific literature, statistical analysis, and the SAW multiple criteria method. The research revealed that regions in a small country differ in their various indicators of absorptive capacity. Using the appropriate tool for assessment can also be a tool for identifying a region’s strong and weak points as well as for promoting or interfering with the absorption of external knowledge.


  1. Abreu M, Grinevich V, Kitson M, Savona M (2009) Absorptive capacity and regional patterns of innovation. Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, LondonGoogle Scholar
  2. Autant-Bernard C, Fadairo M, Massard N (2013) Knowledge diffusion and innovation policies within the European regions: challenges based on recent empirical evidence. Res Policy 42(1):196–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bergman E, Usai S (2009) Knowledge diffusion in European regions. IAREG Deliv 4Google Scholar
  4. Bitinas B (2006) Edukologinių tyrimų metodologiniai vingiai (Methodological turns of educational research). Pedagogika = Pedagogy 83:9–15 (in Lithuanian)Google Scholar
  5. Brown R (2016) Mission impossible? Entrepreneurial universities and peripheral regional innovation systems. Ind Innov 23(2):189–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bruneckienė J, Kilijonienė A (2011) Lietuvos regionų konkurencingumo klasterinė analizė (Cluster analysis of regional competitiveness in Lithuania). Manag Theory Stud Rural Bus Infrastruct Dev 1(25):60–69 (in Lithuanian)Google Scholar
  7. Bruneckienė J, Krušinskas R (2011) ES struktūrinės paramos įtakos Lietuvos regionų plėtrai ir išsivystymo netolygumams mažinti vertinimas (Evaluation of EU structural support for enhancement the development and diminishing the disparities of Lithuania’s regions). Ekonomika ir vadyba = Econ and Manag 16:127–136 (in Lithuanian)Google Scholar
  8. Bucar B (1995) International cooperation of European subnational regions. In: Paper prepared for the ECSA annual conference, May 1995Google Scholar
  9. Castillo LL, Salem DS, Guasch JL (2012) Innovative and absorptive capacity of international knowledge: an empirical analysis of productivity sources in Latin American countries. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper SeriesGoogle Scholar
  10. Chaminade C (2011) Are knowledge bases enough? a comparative study of the geography of knowledge sources in China (great Beijing) and India (Pune). Eur Plan Stud 19(7):1357–1373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Commission Regulation (EU) No 868/2014 of 8 August 2014 amending the annexes to Regulation (EC) No 1059/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the establishment of a common classification of territorial units for statistics (NUTS) (2014) Off J Eur Union, 13.08.2014, L241/1–L241/54Google Scholar
  12. Daugirdas V, Mačiulytė J (2006) Decentralizacija ir teritorinė savivalda Lietuvoje (Decentralisation and autonomy for local government authorities in Lithuania). Politologija = Polit Sci 3(43):91–110 (in Lithuanian)Google Scholar
  13. Döring T, Schnellenbach J (2004) What do we know about geographical knowledge spillovers and regional growth? A survey of the literature. Res Notes Work Pap Ser 14:1–33Google Scholar
  14. Dubois A, Hedin S, Schmitt P, Sterling J (2009) EU macro-regions and macro-regional strategiesGoogle Scholar
  15. Etzkowitz H (2007) University-industry-government: the Triple Helix model of innovation. In: Proceedings of 51-st EOQ congress. European Organization of Quality, PragueGoogle Scholar
  16. Etzkowitz H, Leydesdorff L (2000) The dynamics of innovation: from National Systems and “Mode 2” to a Tripple Helix of university–industry–government relations. Res Policy 29(2):109–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Freeman C (2002) Continental, national and sub-national innovation systems – complementarity and economic growth. Res Policy 2(31):191–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fu X (2008) Foreign direct investment, absorptive capacity and regional innovation capabilities: evidence from China. VII OECD Global Forum on International InvestmentGoogle Scholar
  19. Ginevičius R, Podvezko V (2008a) Daugiakriterinio vertinimo būdų suderinamumas (The problem of compatibility of various multiple criteria evaluation methods). Verslas: teorija ir praktika = Bus Theory Pract 9(1):73–80 (in Lithuanian)Google Scholar
  20. Ginevičius R, Podvezko V (2008b) Daugiakriterinio vertinimo taikymo galimybės kiekybiniam socialinių reiškinių vertinimui (A feasibility study of multicriteria methods’ application to quantitative evaluation of social phenomena). Verslas: teorija ir praktika = Bus Theory Pract 9(2):81–87 (in Lithuanian)Google Scholar
  21. González-Pernía JL, Peña-Legazkue I, Vendrell-Herrero F (2012) Innovation, entrepreneurial activity and competitiveness at a sub-national level. Small Bus Econ 39(3):561–574CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Halkier H, Dahlström M, James L, Manniche J, Olsen LS (2010) Knowledge dynamics, regional development and public policy. Aalborg University, DenmarkGoogle Scholar
  23. Hollanders H, Tarantela St (2011) Innovation Union Scoreboard 2010 – methodology reportGoogle Scholar
  24. Hollanders H, Derbyshire J, Lewney R, Tijssen R, Tarantela St, Leon LR (2012) Regional Innovation Scoreboard 2012. Methodology reportGoogle Scholar
  25. Horibe F (2016) Creating the innovation culture: leveraging visionaries, dissenters, and other useful troublemakers in your organization. VisionArts Inc, MarshalltownGoogle Scholar
  26. Innovation Union Scoreboard 2013 (2013) European CommissionGoogle Scholar
  27. Iszák K, Griniene E (2012) Innovation policy in 2012 – challenges, trends and responses. Produced under the specific contract for the integration of the INNO Policy TrendChart with ERAWATCH (2011-2012). European CommissionGoogle Scholar
  28. Iszák K, Markianidou P, Radošević S (2013) Lessons from a decade of innovation policy. What can be learnt from the INNO Policy TrendChart and The Innovation Union Scoreboard. Final report, European CommissionGoogle Scholar
  29. Jucevičius R, Sutkus A, Šajeva S, Kleinauskė K (2011) Inovacijų sistemos žinių absorbcinis gebėjimas: sektorinė ir institucinė perspektyva (ISAG) (Knowledge absorptive capacity in an innovation system: the sector and institutional perspective). Final report, Kaunas University of Technology, Kaunas (in Lithuanian)Google Scholar
  30. Jucevičius R, Juknevičienė V, Mikolaitytė J, Šaparnienė D (2017) Assessing the regional innovation system’s absorptive capacity: the approach of a smart region in a small country. Systems 5(27):1–19Google Scholar
  31. Juknevičienė V (2015) Regioninės inovacijų sistemos absorbcinio gebėjimo vystymas (Development of regional innovation system’s absorptive capacity). Doctoral Dissertation, Kaunas University of Technology (in Lithuanian)Google Scholar
  32. Juozaitienė V, Juozaitis A, Kerzienė S (2011) Mokslinių tyrimų metodologija, statistinės analizės metodai ir priemonės (Research methodology, statistical analysis and measures). Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Kaunas (in Lithuanian)Google Scholar
  33. Kallio A, Karmaakorpi V, Pihkala T (2010) Absorptive capacity and social capital in regional innovation systems: the case of the Lahti region in Finland. Urban Stud 47(2):303–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kareivaitė R (2012) Daugiakriterių metodų panaudojimas vertinant darnų vystymąsi (The use of multi-criteria methods to evaluate sustainable development). J Manag 1(20):121–127 (in Lithuanian)Google Scholar
  35. Kirstukas J, Rakštys R, Serva E, Vaznonis B (2013) Inovacijų ir techninių pokyčių ekonomika (Economy of innovation and technical change). Akademija, Kaunas (in Lithuanian)Google Scholar
  36. Kriaučionienė M (2008) INNO-Policy TrendChart – policy trends and appraisal reports. European Commission, LithuaniaGoogle Scholar
  37. Lane PJ, Koka BR, Pathak S (2002) A thematic analysis and critical assessment of absorptive capacity research. Acad Manag Proc M1:1–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Leydesdorff L (2012) The Triple Helix of university-industry-governmentGoogle Scholar
  39. Lithuania’s Progress Strategy “Lithuania 2030” (2012) State Progress CouncilGoogle Scholar
  40. Mahroum S, Alsaleh Y (2012) Measuring innovation efficacy: an operational framework for mapping and measuring innovation capacity and performance of countries. Faculty & Research Working Paper, INSEAD, Abu DhabiGoogle Scholar
  41. Mahroum S, Poirson B (2008) UK global opportunities, local challenges. Absorbing innovation from above and below. Working Paper, NESTA, 33Google Scholar
  42. Mahroum S, Huggins R, Clayton N, Pain K, Taylor P (2008) Innovation by adoption. Measuring and mapping absorptive capacity in UK nations and regionsGoogle Scholar
  43. Main Science and Technology Indicators (2014) OECD statisticsGoogle Scholar
  44. Matatkova K, Stejskal J (2013) Descriptive analysis of the regional innovation system – novel method for public administration authorities. Transylvanian Rev Adm Sci 39:91–107Google Scholar
  45. Mineikaitė E (2013) Innovative activity opportunities for the development of Lithuania’s regions: methodological approach. Reg Formation Dev Stud 10(2):147–156Google Scholar
  46. Moutinho RFF (2016) Absorptive capacity and business model innovation as rapid development strategies for regional growth. Investig Econ LXXV(295):157–202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Narula R (2004) Understanding absorptive capacity in an ‘innovation system’ context: consequences for economic and employment growth. DRUID Working Paper No 04-02, Danish Research Unit for Industrial DynamicsGoogle Scholar
  48. Onyeiwu St (2011) Does lack of innovation and absorptive capacity retard economic growth in Africa? Working Paper No. 2011/19, Word Institute of Development Economics Research, HelsinkiGoogle Scholar
  49. Podvezko V (2011) The comparative analysis of MCDA methods SAW and COPRAS. Inžinerinė ekonomika = Eng Econ 22(2):134–146Google Scholar
  50. Puidokas M, Daukaitė I (2013) Lietuvos regioninės politikos tobulinimo kryptys Europos Sąjungos regioninės politikos kontekste (Influence of European Union in solving Lithuanian regional policy problems). Viešoji politika ir administravimas = Public Policy Adm 1(12):65–79 (in Lithuanian)Google Scholar
  51. Sleuwaegen L, Boiardi P (2014) Creativity and regional innovation: evidence from EU regions. Res Policy 43:1508–1522CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Strube D (2011) Threshold effects from absorptive capacity and the efectiveness of innovation policy. Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, MainzGoogle Scholar
  53. The Global Innovation Index 2012: Stronger Innovation Linkages for Global Growth (2013) In: Dutta S (ed). INSEAD, WIPO, FranceGoogle Scholar
  54. Thulin P (2009) Labor mobility, knowledge diffusion, and regional growth. In: Paper for CESIS and the Division of Economics at KTH. The Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies (CESIS), SwedenGoogle Scholar
  55. Uotila T, Harmaakorpi V, Melkas H (2006) A method for assessing absorptive capacity of a regional innovation system. Fennia 1(184):49–58Google Scholar
  56. van Hemert P, Iske PL (2015) Framing knowledge-based urban development and absorptive capacity of urban regions: a case-study of Limburg, The Netherlands. J Knowl Based Dev 6(4):314–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. World Economic Outlook April 2015. Uneven Growth. Short- and Long-Term Factors (2015) International Monetary FundGoogle Scholar
  58. Zhuang E, Chen G, Feng G (2011) A network model of knowledge accumulation through diffusion and upgrade. Phys A 390:2582–2592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Žvirblis A, Zinkevičiūtė V (2008) Įmonės aplinkos komponentų daugiakriterinio kiekybinio vertinimo principai ir modeliai (The principles and basic models for multi-criteria quantitative evaluation of business company’s environmental components). Verslo ir teisės aktualijos = Curr Issues Bus Law 1:183–191 (in Lithuanian)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vita Juknevičienė
    • 1
  • Jurgita Mikolaitytė
    • 1
  • Diana Šaparnienė
    • 1
  1. 1.Šiauliai UniversityŠiauliaiLithuania

Personalised recommendations