Session 239

Ambidexterity / Exploration and Exploitation

Track I

Date: Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Time: 17:30 – 18:45

Common Ground

Room: Club E


  • Rafael Corredoira, Ohio State University
  • Justin Jansen, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Title: Developing Ambidexterity in The Purchasing Function: The Anteceding Role of Internal and External Integration


  • Philipp Zimmermann, WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management
  • Sebastian Kortmann, University of Amsterdam
  • Lutz Kaufmann, WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management
  • Carsten Zimmermann, University of San Diego

Abstract: Strategic and operations managers are often confronted with incongruent and diametrically opposing competitive performance goals, such as innovation and cost. Hence, examination of mechanisms that facilitate the simultaneous pursuit of these goals has moved to the forefront of research. We draw upon the management and organizational literatures to introduce the concept of ambidexterity to the function that is central to this debate, purchasing. Our research contribution is thus, at least, threefold. We (1) extend the conceptualization of ambidexterity to the purchasing context and introduce a measurement instrument for purchasing ambidexterity. We (2) analyze the anteceding role of internal and external integration on purchasing ambidexterity. Our structural equation model illustrates (3) how purchasing ambidexterity affects the simultaneous realization of cost- and innovation-oriented performance.

Title: Exploration, Exploitation and Long-Run Organizational Performance: The Moderating Role of Technological Interdependence


  • Gianluca Vagnani, Sapienza University of Rome
  • Loredana Volpe, Sapienza University of Rome

Abstract: Theoretical studies have proposed that the contribution of balancing exploration and exploitation to long-run organizational performance might depend upon environmental conditions and, in particular, upon differences in the extent of interdependencies between firms’ activities. Computer-based simulation studies have then clarified how and why interdependencies may determine the contribution of exploitation and exploration to long-run organizational performance. This paper offers a first attempt to conduct a large-scale empirical test analyzing how interdependencies, particularly those between productive activities, moderate the effects of balancing exploration and exploitation to long-run firm’s performance. In industries with limited levels of interdependency balancing exploration with exploitation is more valuable for organizations. With greater interdependencies, exploration fosters profitable changes and innovation and maintains sufficient stability.

Title: Great Minds think Alike: Isomorphic Pressures on Organizational Ambidexterity in Industry Clusters


  • Renato Sydler, ETH Zurich
  • Nicole Rosenkranz, ETH Zurich
  • Georg von Krogh, ETH Zurich

Abstract: Ambidexterity has developed into a ubiquitous phenomenon in management research, asserting that firms need to engage in innovations that stretch between exploitation and exploration. Extant literature has ascribed the environment large influence on a firm’s decision to exploit and explore, however, limiting its focus on competitiveness and market dynamism as predominant stimuli. In taking an institutional theory lens, we propose geographical proximity as a third driver impacting a firm’s innovation activities through institutional isomorphism. In analyzing industrial clusters, we find that two particular cluster characteristics, namely density and specialization, impact the firm’s innovation activities. Using panel data on clusters of the entire biopharmaceutical industry (1999–2007), we find that both specialization and concentration drive firms towards an ambidextrous balance, which is tilted towards exploration

Title: The Effects of Process Orientation on Exploitative and Explorative Innovation


  • Doris Weitlaner, CAMPUS 02 - University of Applied Sciences
  • Markus Kohlbacher, Graz University of Technology

Abstract: Research on process management is burgeoning, yet our understanding of the impact of process management practices on innovation performance remains rather unclear. While many researchers have measured process orientation (PO) as a unidimensional construct, we incorporate the multidimensional nature of PO and examine how different process management principles affect exploitative and explorative innovation. Building on a survey-based study of Austrian manufacturing and service companies, our study reveals that the application of continuous process improvement methods and a corporate culture in line with the process approach enhance both exploitative and explorative innovation. We also find that process-based formulization is detrimental to explorative innovation.

Title: The Paradox of Static and Dynamic Ambidexterity


  • Johannes Luger, University of Geneva; University of St. Gallen
  • Sebastian Raisch, University of Geneva

Abstract: This paper introduces the concept of dynamic ambidexterity, which arises from a firm’s ability to balance exploration and exploitation and to adapt this balance over time. Building on the strategy-environment coalignment literature, we argue that dynamic ambidexterity leads to higher firm performance than the more static forms of ambidexterity described in previous studies. While we introduce the concept of dynamic ambidexterity, we highlight a novel paradox for ambidextrous firms. We show that static ambidexterity has a self-reinforcing effect: while firms become more persistent in balancing exploitation and exploration, their ability to adapt this balance declines. Ultimately, static ambidexterity crowds out dynamic ambidexterity, which harms firm performance. Based on a longitudinal sample of insurance companies, we find empirical support for our arguments.

Title: The Relationship of Exploration and Exploitation: Reaching Consensus on Fundamental Debates Using Meta-Analytic Techniques


  • Bernardo Correia-Lima, University of Amsterdam
  • Sebastian Fourné, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Justin Jansen, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Abstract: Scholars interested in the interplay of exploration and exploitation have been facing three fundamental debates since March’s (1991) seminal paper. First, the relationship between exploration and exploitation – do the manifestations of these two concepts pan out as a trade-off? Second, statistical evidence on the locus of the paradox, i.e. at which level of analysis it is felt most strongly, remains elusive. Third, conceptualizations of exploration and exploitation vary substantially in existing research. We use meta-analytic techniques to aggregate and synthesize all existing empirical evidence to reach consensus on these three fundamental issues, highlighting the important implications of study design and execution in research on exploration and exploitation. We discuss the implications of our findings and outline the most promising future research avenues.

All Sessions in Track I...

Sun: 08:00 – 09:15
Session 274: Knowledge Foundations: A Conversation with Robert Grant about the Knowledge Based View
Sun: 09:30 – 10:45
Session 273: Big Data, Knowledge and Innovation
Sun: 11:15 – 12:30
Session 275: The Changing Nature of Innovation in Emerging Economies
Sun: 15:15 – 16:30
Session 225: Intellectual Property Rights
Session 229: Structure and Innovation
Mon: 08:00 – 09:15
Session 223: Individuals, Teams and Innovation
Session 242: R&D
Mon: 09:30 – 10:45
Session 140: Knowledge Management & Knowledge Structures: Who knows?
Session 226: Technology
Session 235: Learning
Mon: 13:30 – 14:45
Session 222: Integrating Knowledge about Knowledge Integration
Session 227: Knowledge Transfer and Replication
Mon: 16:30 – 17:45
Session 224: Absorptive Capacity
Session 236: Innovation and Performance
Tue: 08:00 – 09:15
Session 230: Ties, Networks, and Innovation
Session 237: Open Innovation
Tue: 11:00 – 12:15
Session 228: Exploration
Session 231: Alliance and Transfer
Tue: 14:15 – 15:30
Session 234: Incumbent Response to Foreign Entry and to Disruptive Innovation
Session 240: Capabilities
Tue: 15:45 – 17:00
Session 233: Structure and Transfer
Session 243: Entrepreneurs, Ventures, and Innovation
Tue: 17:30 – 18:45
Session 232: Innovation and Transfer
Session 239: Ambidexterity / Exploration and Exploitation
Session 244: Knowledge Management

Strategic Management Society