Absorptive capacity : a case study of sales capability development in a non-profit organization
1University of Oulu, Oulu Business School, Department of Management and International Business, International Business
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The purpose of this research was to find out how individual salesperson’s ability to recognize and acquire knowledge is utilized in the organization through absorptive capacity in order to develop sales capability. First of all, the work aims to clarify how individual salespeople recognize external knowledge. Second the work provides insight into how the knowledge is assimilated, transformed and exploited within the subunit and how it is shared between different subunits of the organization in Finland. And third the work aims to identify how different organizational factors influence on the knowledge recognition, acquisition and transformation and exploitation. The used methodology for the thesis is an exploratory case study and the used method is semi-structured interview. The target of the study is a team, which operates in a non-profit organization in Finland. First the case study suggests that leadership may switch the individual motivation from self-centered motivation to develop individual skills into motivation to develop team. The human resource management tools did seem to create motivation and ability towards sales work and they contributes to the capability development as well. However, this finding may suggest that in future research leadership could be studied within the context of capability development through absorptive capacity. Second, the pattern, according to which the sales people were able to recognize development needs of the sales capability, to search and recognize the knowledge within the environment, the ability to bring the knowledge into the team for open discussion and participate on the decision making is central in the absorptive capacity. This pattern contributes to the operational capability development through the principles of absorptive capacity and the case illustrates the role of individual salespeople in it. In further research this kind of pattern could be researched more probably through researches where the researcher would be taking notes in the social integration mechanism in order to gain further knowledge regarding to the different stages of absorptive capacity. Third the knowledge sharing practices within the sales capability development were impeded by the organizations strategy. This suggests that the misalignment between the organizational strategy and sales capability development may cause thus reduce absorptive capacity. The results from the case provide direction for future research in sales capability development through absorptive capacity and they can be used in organizations when developing sales capability. Even though the non-profit business is significantly different from for-profit business, the general way how absorptive capacity functions does not differ that much. When it comes to the generalizability of the results, it has to be remembered that this was a single case study in a non-profit organization taking strongly individual perspective, and thus it does not create a holistic picture of the absorptive capacity or the sales capability development within the organization. However, the results do support the future research by providing insight into how absorptive capacity can be used in development of sales capability.
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