Although there is a large body of research on innovation related to other industrial sectors, little attention has been paid – until now – to the meetings industry.
A project funded by International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) with input from over 200 ICCA member organizations has enabled Leeds Beckett University’s International Centre for Research in Events, Tourism and Hospitality to develop an instrument to measure absorptive capacity of an organization. Meetings industry organizations are now able to compare their level of absorptive capacity with others in the industry (see Figure 1 below).
The simplicity of the instrument means that companies in the meetings industry will also be able to monitor their absorptive capacity regularly, to track improvements over time and to compare their results with their peers.
“There are many potential explanations for why some organizations are innovative and others are not. Factors such as entrepreneurial leadership, organizational culture and the management of knowledge are often cited as important variables,” stated Rhodri Thomas, professor, International Centre for Research in Events, Tourism and Hospitality, Leeds Beckett University, UK.
Thomas added, “One of the most influential ideas to emerge over the past two decades, however, is the role absorptive capacity plays in innovation. Absorptive capacity is the ability to acquire, assimilate, transform and exploit external knowledge for competitive advantage. The idea is that competitive organizations are not only able to process knowledge effectively to innovate but they also have the capacity to use information that does not directly fill an identifiable gap in knowledge.”
“We were delighted that an ICCA member university wanted to tackle such a challenging research topic. Our industry is constantly talking about innovation, but there have been no objective tools available. Hopefully this innovative project is the start of a new way of thinking about this important issue,” said Martin Sirk, CEO, ICCA.
Figure 1: Absorptive Capacity Scores for the Meetings Industry
The meetings industry’s average Absorptive Capacity Score, as suggested by responses from 208 ICCA members, is 34. A score of 45 or more suggests a high level of absorptive capacity. This capability is highly influential in creating an innovative organizational culture.
The industry average score conceals a wide range from very low to very high scores, suggesting that some organizations could be significantly more effective in using external knowledge for competitive advantage whilst others are highly innovative.
How innovative is your organization? The ICCA Absorptive Capacity Tool
To calculate their absorptive capacity score, meetings industry organizations can complete the form in this interactive PDF and simply add up the results: http://www.iccaworld.com/dcps/doc.cfm?docid=1764.
They can then compare their score with the industry average and the industry leaders.
These ten questions are based on previous research on absorptive capacity in other industries, creating fifty potential questions which were tested and selectively eliminated to provide the best possible measurement. The simplicity of the instrument means that organizations in the meetings industry will also be able to monitor their absorptive capacity regularly, to track improvements over time and to compare their results with their peers, creating a barometer of innovation.
Download the ICCA Research Paper: How innovative is your organization? – Including 4 things you could do to improve the absorptive capacity of your organization: http://www.iccaworld.com/dcps/doc.cfm?docid=1766.