In search of virtuous learning circles: absorptive capacity and its antecedents in the education sector
Journal of Knowledge Management
Purpose This study aims to identify context-specific antecedents to schools' absorptive capacity (AC) and to show how those can enact "a virtuous learning circle." Design/methodology/approach The study uses a mixed method: an exploration based on semi-structured interviews with educational experts; the development of a measurement scale and a partial least squares structural equation modelling to test the impact of the antecedents. Findings The results yielded four empirically-grounded
... ts and their measurement scales, namely, prior knowledge, employees' skills, educational projects and interactions with the environment (Studies one and two). All antecedents are significantly and positively related to AC processes (study three). Using the organizational learning theory perspective, the results have been interpreted as an AC "virtuous learning circle." Practical implications With increasing pressures to adapt, a case of which was the COVID-19 pandemic, schools can greatly benefit from absorbing knowledge flows. This suggests the construction a favourable environment for AC. To this end, the individual (employees' prior knowledge and skills), organizational (educational projects) and institutional level of managerial action (interactions with the environment) can be effective when create a recursive organizational learning circle. In addition, this study offers an expert-validated measurement scale for self-assessment of a school's specific contingencies, and thus, for planning of punctual interventions to develop AC. Originality/value This study advances the existing body of knowledge management in the educational context by rigorously identifying and validating a scale for measuring the antecedents of AC and developing an interpretive approach to the AC "virtuous circle."