Benchmarking human resource innovation through absorptive capacity

The Australian Meat Processing Corporation (AMPC) commissioned Greenleaf to help understand the industry’s absorptive capacity. Greenleaf defines absorptive capacity as a company’s ability to utilise externally held knowledge through three sequential processes: recognising and understanding potentially valuable new knowledge through exploratory learning, assimilating new knowledge through transformative learning, and using this assimilated knowledge to create new knowledge and commercial outputs through exploitative learning. Using that framework, this exploratory study investigated the current capacity of five companies to absorb, assimilate, and exploit new knowledge for innovation. Greenleaf found that the Australian red meat industry faces market conditions that make it increasingly difficult to compete. Despite the ongoing challenges, there are significant opportunities, if the industry can position itself to keep pace with knowledge innovation and other technological advancements. This opportunity will progressively be realised as the industry builds capacity to absorb and use new knowledge. Modernising and sustaining the industry into the future will require transformational leaders, as well as practical managers to drive change throughout the vertical and horizontal structures of red meat companies, and at a faster pace than has been required in the past.