Validating a Design Thinking Strategy: Merging Design Thinking and Absorptive Capacity to Build a Dynamic Capability and Competitive Advantage

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Brad Cousins


Design thinking in the management context has suffered from vague definition, gaps in literature, and lack of theoretical foundation. Research streams in absorptive capacity and dynamic capabilities have reached a point of convergence with respect to design thinking and absorption of external knowledge. As such, this study draws on both absorptive capacity and dynamic capability theory to provide theoretical foundation for the strategic consideration of design thinking in strategy, organization design, and organizational learning. In doing so, this study extends seminal absorptive capacity theory providing empirical evidence of design thinking as a dynamic capability to enhance absorptive capacity. Additionally, this study extends dynamic capabilities theory by confirming design thinking as a means of integration, learning, and reconfiguring knowledge to build competitive advantage. Therefore, this study merges existing research streams to empirically validate design thinking as a dynamic capability which must be strategically considered.

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