Absorptive capacity–the ability to learn and apply external knowledge and information to acquire material resources–is an essential but overlooked driver in community adaptation to new and unprecedented disasters. We analyzed data from a representative random sample of 603 individuals from 25 coastal communities in Louisiana affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. We used simultaneous equation models to assess the relationship between absorptive capacity and resource acquisition for affected individuals after the disaster. Results show that the diversity of individuals’ prior knowledge coupled with the community’s external orientation and internal cohesion facilitate resource use. They go beyond simply providing resources and demonstrate individual and community features necessary for absorbing information and knowledge and help devise adaptation strategies to address the dynamics of changing economic, social, and political environment after the disaster.
Cheong S-M, Assenova VA (2021) Absorptive capacity facilitates adaptation to novel environmental disasters. PLoS ONE 16(11): e0259368. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0259368