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In this paper, we argue that those firms with higher levels of absorptive capacity can manage external knowledge flows more efficiently, and stimulate innovative outcomes. We test this contention with a sample of 2265 Spanish firms, drawn from the Community Innovation Surveys (CIS) for 2000 and 2002, produced by the Spanish National Statistics Institute (INE). We find that absorptive capacity is indeed an important source of competitive advantage, especially in sectors characterized by turbulent knowledge and strong intellectual property rights protection. The implications for management practice and policy are also discussed.