Purpose: The growth, diversity and applications of research into dynamic capabilities (DCs) have resulted in the whole literature on DCs becoming a complex and disconnected body of knowledge. This has led to criticisms of the subject of DCs as being vague, tautological and without practical value. Hence, the purpose of this paper is to synthesize the diverse scholarly literature about DCs and develop a more integrated understanding to minimize the reported apparent vagueness. Design/methodology/approach: In this paper, the authors review various relevant themes on DCs using a selection of 133 articles published in 22 recognized, top-tier management journals during the period between 1990 and 2016, with an aim to build a structured and integrated theory. For this, morphological analysis (MA), a systems-thinking technique, is applied. Findings: MA is applied to develop a multi-dimensional conceptual framework comprising five dimensions and 26 variants that enable a structured representation of the conceptual foundations of DCs. Further, the authors identify 81 individual DCs noted by various scholars; elucidate assumptions and antecedents relevant to the DCs approach; structure the key characteristics; and expound the input factors, impacting factors, desired outcomes and assessment yardsticks. Research limitations/implications: This would be a useful resource for researchers working in the area of DCs to explore opportunities for future research. Practical implications: The MA framework helps managers to look at DCs more holistically, and hence would help them in developing, managing and retaining DCs in organizations. Originality/value: This study is the original work contributed by the authors and has no specific organizational reference. This research implies new directions to look beyond individual DCs in firms toward a more integrated theory building. © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited.