When knowledge is shared or transferred between firms, R&D is less relevant than the similarity between the firms. Lane and Lubatkin (1998) coin the term “relative absorptive capacity” to describe the phenomenon that firms have various levels of AC and that it is a relative phenomenon.
(Volberda et al. 2010:933)
Volberda, H., Foss N., and Lyles, M. 2010. Perspective – absorbing the concept of absorptive capacity: how to realize its potential in the organization field. Organization Science Vol. 21,(4), pp. 931–951.
citing Lane, P. J., M. Lubatkin. 1998. Relative absorptive capacity and interorganizational learning. Strategic Management J. 19 461–477.