What is it about?

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate how specialised capabilities including absorptive capacity and marketing capabilities influence innovation commercialisation in manufacturing and service firms in Nigeria. The authors hypothesise that absorptive capacity measures including openness and formal training for innovation, and marketing capabilities encompassing new product marketing and marketing innovation are positively associated with innovation performance. Design/methodology/approach – The authors examine the commercialisation of innovation within the profiting from innovation (PFI) and dynamic capabilities (DC) framework and use data from the 2012 Nigeria Innovation Survey to test the hypothesis by means of a Heckman sample selection model. Findings – The authors find that absorptive capacity measures comprising openness and formal training are positively associated with innovation performance. The authors also find that marketing capabilities as indicated by new product marketing and marketing innovation are positively associated with innovation performance. Research limitations/implications – The authors acknowledge that firms undergo continuous changes and that there may be the presence of unobserved or unmeasured heterogeneity. Taking into cognisance that Nigeria is a federal state, cultural diversity and economic factors are likely to differ widely between geographical regions. Also, while the proposed conceptual framework offers a deeper understanding of innovation performance, examining how integrating activities of the R&D department, human resource department and marketing department affect innovation commercialisation is likely to provide more meaningful insights.

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Why is it important?

Practical implications – The role that inter-organisational learning and intra-organisational learning play in driving innovation performance provide managers with a basis for incorporating absorptive capacity building programs that boost employees’ ability to recognise and apply valuable external knowledge to commercial ends. Similarly, firms may benefit from offering marketing capabilities development programs. Furthermore, innovation policies in Nigeria are generally designed to focus on fostering innovation activities aimed at developing innovative output. Accordingly, government support explicitly targeting new product marketing and marketing innovation is likely to play a vital role in the successful commercialisation of innovation in Nigeria. Originality/value – This study fuses the PFI and DC framework to examine why innovating firms may not necessarily succeed. This area of study has received scant attention in sub-Saharan Africa given that extant literature focusses on value creation as opposed to value capture.


Considering the case of Nigeria, innovation commercialisation is essential for ensuring that firms remain competitive in a business environment characterised by macroeconomic and institutional instability (Fagbadebo, 2007; Mark and Nwaiwu, 2015). Nigeria also suffers low absorptive capacity and generally underutilises existing capacity, as is the case in SSA (Agri et al., 2018). Nevertheless, in contrast to developed countries, non-technological forms of innovation, such as marketing innovation have typically surpassed those of technological innovation in Nigeria (Egbetokun et al., 2017). These current developments highlight the challenges and opportunities for innovation performance in low-income countries such as Nigeria, to be specific and Africa at large. In light of this, we posit that intangible assets such as absorptive capacity and marketing capabilities are likely to play a crucial role in fostering innovation commercialisation by mitigating uncertainty in the face of macroeconomic and institutional instability (Garcia Martinez et al., 2019).

Dr. Stephen Kehinde Medase
Universitat Bremen

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This page is a summary of: Absorptive capacity, marketing capabilities, and innovation commercialisation in Nigeria, European Journal of Innovation Management, October 2019, Emerald,
DOI: 10.1108/ejim-09-2018-0194.
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