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The role of psychological distance in knowledge acquisition and absorptive capacity: A quantitative study investigating Nordic firms targeting the elderly population
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

An aging population is becoming an increasingly growing global phenomenon, and 2050 is said to be a historical breaking point where 65+ will outnumber those between 0-5 years old. However, previous research has failed to provide sufficient explanations for consumer behavior for this particular segment, and a large incidence have been found to share the belief that technology fails to be adapted to meet their needs properly.

An overlooked aspect of knowledge management was found and a research gap was thus identified addressing the role of cognition when assessing and interpreting customer needs. The purpose has been to develop a deeper understanding of certain aspects of how companies within this industry acquire and assimilate knowledge, and how product developers perceive the role of cognition in these processes. In order to shed light on these dimensions of knowledge management, a research question has been formulated as follows:

"How does psychological distance affect knowledge acquisition, absorptive capacity and relationship quality?"

A quantitative study was carried out involving 45 companies operating in a variety of industries ranging from robotics, hygiene and special nutrition, to eldercare and mobility products. Altogether, 51 responses were collected and analyzed using simple- and multiple regression, and were subsequently discussed based on a developed theoretical framework.

The results found in this study have been used to identify combinations of cognitive dimensions and relationship quality for the purpose of developing a better understanding of its respective impact on knowledge acquisition and absorptive capacity. The findings culminated in a model through which to explain for these combinations of psychological distance, level of construal and relationship quality and their effect on the ability to acquire and disseminate new knowledge from elderly.High-level information was found easier to acquire among the respondent companies, and low-level contrarily easier to absorb. Greater psychological distance in combination with low relationship quality had a positive impact of high-level construal individuals to acquire knowledge from external sources. In contrast to these findings, perceived proximity in the psychological distances and high relationship quality were jointly found to assist in knowledge dissemination processes for low-level construal individuals.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 99 p.
Keyword [en]
Psychological distance, knowledge management, knowledge acquisition, absorptive capacity, relationship quality, elderly population, product development, innovation management, innovation development
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-122926OAI: diva2:942643
Educational program
Master's program in Business Development and Internationalisation
2016-05-31, S506, Samhällsvetarhuset Biblioteksgränd 6 B32801, Umeå universitet, 901 87, Umeå SE, Umeå, 08:00 (English)
Available from: 2016-07-01 Created: 2016-06-26 Last updated: 2016-07-01Bibliographically approved

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