Social Capital and Organizational Ambidexterity: The Moderating Effect of Absorptive Capacity

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Peer-Reviewed Article

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The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of social capital on organizational ambidexterity in the context of emerging economies. Moreover, this paper aims to study the moderating influence of absorptive capacity on the relationship between social capital and organizational ambidexterity.


The authors conducted two studies using survey data collected from 97 Ecuadorian and 100 Chinese small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).


The authors found that social capital, the extent to which organizational members interact, collaborate and share knowledge with one another and with external actors, has a positive effect on the simultaneous implementation of exploratory and exploitative innovations (i.e. organizational ambidexterity). Moreover, the authors found that absorptive capacity positively strengthens the impact of social capital on organizational ambidexterity.


Drawing on the knowledge-based view and the innovation literature, the authors theoretically argue the importance of social capital and absorptive capacity for SMEs to develop and manage exploratory and exploitative innovations simultaneously in emerging economies of different cultures. The authors empirically test proposed hypotheses in Ecuador and China, two emerging markets with important cultural differences, and show the relevance of social capital in multiple settings.