The main objective of this study is to answer the question of how farmers’ networking behaviour and their ability to acquire, assimilate, transform and exploit external knowledge is related to their level of innovativeness and profitability. These relations were tested on the basis of structural equation modeling using 444 questionnaires completed by large-scale pig farmers in the Netherlands. Previous studies on the relation between network structure and innovativeness re-tained the absorptive capacity 'black box' by using proxies for absorption of knowledge. The pre-sent study addresses this shortcoming by studying absorptive capacity in terms of organizational capacities (routines and processes) of farmers to use their networks and absorb external knowledge. The findings show that frequency of contact in a specific network range affects in-novativeness positively, but also indirectly through acquisition and assimilation capacity. Assimilation capacity turns out to be the most important dimension of absorptive capacity for the inno-vativeness of pig farmers.