The impact of absorptive, innovative and adaptive capabilities on project and project portfolio performance

Thomas Biedenbach / Ralf Müller

The purpose of this paper is to explore how absorptive, innovative and adaptive capabilities within the early project phases affect project and portfolio performance within the R&D of pharmaceutical and biotechnology organizations. The study follows a sequential mixed method with an initial qualitative study and a subsequent quantitative study. The results show that the set of absorptive, innovative and adaptive capabilities has an overall effect on the set of performance outcomes composed of short- and long-term project success and portfolio performance. This result confirms the findings of the qualitative study that a distinct capability mix is needed in the pharmaceutical R&D process. Within the set of capabilities, absorptive and adaptive capabilities are the primary contributors to the performance outcome, whereas innovative capabilities are a minor contributor.