Knowledge overlaps between an organization's internal knowledge and the external knowledge it seeks are a key element of the ability of an organization to absorb new, external knowledge. There have been some similarities and differences in the research literature concerning the size of an overlap and its effect on an organization's knowledge management efforts. By comparing and contrasting two key literatures, absorptive capacity and organizational routines, a clearer picture can be provided to explain the effects of different sizes of knowledge overlaps. The integration of elements of these two literatures suggests that organizations should become more aware of knowledge overlap size and to take a variety of knowledge, organizational, and environmental factors into account when... determining what types of external knowledge they should seek. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.