Session Details: Session 1014

Creating Ambidextrous Organizations

Track I

Date: Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Time: 10:00 – 11:15


Room: Salon 16

Session Chair:
Thomas Schrettle, University of St. Gallen

Title: Ambidexterity and Innovative Performance: The Role of Intellectual Human Capital and Strategic Alliances


  • Andrew Hess, University of Virginia
  • Frank T. Rothaermel, Georgia Institute of Technology

Abstract: We develop and empirically test a contingency framework of ambidexterity across exploration and exploitation activities. While an exploration-exploitation lens has been applied to strategic alliances based on their strategic motivation, we propose that it can also be applied to a firm’s intellectual human capital based on a bifurcation of “star” versus “staff scientists.” We leverage fine-grained longitudinal data on 3,100 alliances, 3,500 new drug introductions, 36,000 biotechnology patents that have been cited 80,000 times, 147,000 non-biotechnology patents, 171,000 publishing scientists, 672,000 journal publications, and 9.9 million journal citations. In general, we find support for the notion that building capabilities within the same activity compensate for one another, while ambidexterity across exploration and exploitation enhances a firm’s innovative performance.

Title: Confronting the Paradox of the Highly Disciplined Organization: The Role of Perturbation


  • David Brunner, Harvard University
  • Bradley Staats, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Michael Tushman, Harvard University
  • David Upton, Harvard University

Abstract: Organizations experience intense pressure to exploit their existing knowledge and capabilities. However, exploitation tends to drive out exploration and render organizations inflexible. Hence the paradox of the highly disciplined organization: exploitation leads to short term success, but undermines long term survival. Many resolutions to the paradox rely on isolating exploration and exploitation in separate organizational units. We propose a model of organizational activity as hierarchically nested cycles of exploration and exploitation. In this model, exploration and exploitation are complementary and feed into each other through control and perturbation. Perturbation shakes organizations out of established processes and creates opportunities for exploration. We illustrate the model using the empirical example of Toyota and then sketch a theory of perturbation that characterizes perturbations as organizational responses to signals.

Title: Exploration, Exploitation, and the Ambidextrous Organization: The Moderating Role of Environmental Comprtitiveness


  • Thomas Schrettle, University of St. Gallen

Abstract: ABSTRACT
Ambidextrous designs are organizational forms which are able to manage contradictory forms of organizational learning simultaneously. Superior performance is expected based on the ability to both explore new opportunities and exploit old certainties. While most research to date has focused on organizational structures, context and coordination mechanisms as internal antecedents for ambidexterity, there has also been some work including aspects of external organizational contexts. However, the role of environmental competitiveness for ambidexterity has remained quite unclear. Hence, this proposal focuses on the role of competitiveness environments for the ambidexterity concept. Different dimensions of exploration and exploitation are considered and testable hypotheses developed to enhance the understanding of the moderating role of environmental competitiveness on the ambidextrous organization.

Title: Intra-Project Ambidexterity in Technology Innovation: Antecedents and Outcomes


  • Alexander Zimmermann, University of St. Gallen
  • Sebastian Raisch, University of Geneva

Abstract: Expanding prior research on organizational ambidexterity on the corporate or business unit level, this paper introduces the concept of intra-project ambidexterity as the capability to simultaneously incorporate exploitative and exploratory characteristics within a single innovation project. We develop a model that illustrates how intra-project ambidexterity is expected to affect innovation success and further suggest structural and contextual antecedents for simultaneously pursuing exploitation and exploration on the project level. To test our hypotheses, we collected data from 107 innovation projects at a global automobile manufacturer. Our upcoming empirical results potentially contribute a new perspective to the academic discussion on ambidexterity's antecedents and outcomes.

All Sessions in Track I...

Sun: 10:00 – 11:30
Session 1505: Innovation, Learning and Corporate Responsibility
Sun: 15:00 – 16:30
Session 1705: Towards the Micro-Foundations Of Organizational Learning
Mon: 11:15 – 12:30
Session 1022: Using Alliance Networks to Enhance Innovation
Session 1024: Developing New Technologies and Products
Mon: 15:30 – 16:45
Session 1013: Linking Organizational Factors to Innovation Orientation and Outcomes
Session 1023: The Role of Top Management in Learning and Innovation
Mon: 17:00 – 18:15
Session 1016: The Influence of "Outsiders" on Innovation
Tue: 11:15 – 12:30
Session 1017: The Influence of Learning and Absorptive Capacity on Innovation
Session 1021: Influences on Innovation Strategies and Outcomes
Tue: 14:30 – 15:45
Session 1018: Building on the Past: The Effect of Experience and Relatedness
Wed: 10:00 – 11:15
Session 1014: Creating Ambidextrous Organizations
Session 1019: Working with Others: Collaboration and Knowledge Development
Wed: 11:30 – 12:45
Session 1015: Knowledge Innovation: Creating New Knowledge and Capabilities
Session 1020: When Does Geographic Proximity Pay?

Strategic Management Society

Cologne Conference