Experiential Strategies for Building Individual Absorptive Capacity


  • Hugh M. Cannon
  • Bryon C. Geddes
  • Andrew Hale Feinstein


This paper seeks to develop a stronger conceptual base for understanding the process of experiential learning as a means of developing individual absorptive capacity. Organizational absorptive capacity has received considerable attention in the management literature. While individual absorptive capacity is arguably the objective of most management education, it has received very little specific attention. Our model points to the essential role of experiential teaching and learning in developing absorptive capacity, highlighting critical knowledge and skills that can only be learned through personal experience. By describing how individuals absorb knowledge in an organizational setting, it identifies key learning objectives for an integrated experiential curriculum. These objectives include mastery of impersonal information search strategies, interpersonal networking, high-level cognitive processes, a diverse knowledge base, emotional intelligence, single- and double-loop learning, and the acquisition of tacit knowledge. Objectives also include the emotional involvement and personal practice necessary for students to internalize and use these skills in their work. Articulating clear experiential learning objectives enables business school educators to develop strategies for facilitating this learning.