Social Capital and Learning Advantages: A Problem of Absorptive Capacity

Mathew Hughes*, Robert E. Morgan, R. Duane Ireland, Paul Hughes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Theoretically, social capital allows entrepreneurial firms to capitalize on learning advantages of newness and gain access to knowledge as the foundation for improved performance. But this understates its complexity. We consider whether learning through social capital relationships has a direct effect on performance and whether absorptive capacity mediates and moderates this relationship. We find that network-based learning has no direct relationship with performance, but this is mediated in each instance by absorptive capacity and is moderated twice. Our findings challenge the learning advantages of newness thesis and reveal how absorptive capacity can enable business performance from a firm's network relationships.

Original languageEnglish
JournalStrategic Entrepreneurship Journal
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)214-233
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Social capital
  • Learning advantages of newness
  • Absorptive capacity
  • Network-based learning
  • Entrepreneurial firms

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