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Ambidexterity as a Dynamic Capability: Resolving the Innovator's Dilemma

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  • O'Reilly, Charles A., III

    (Stanford U)

  • Tushman, Michael

    (Harvard U)

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    Abstract

    How do organizations survive in the face of change? Underlying this question is a rich debate about whether organizations can adapt--and if so how. One perspective, organizational ecology, presents evidence suggesting that most organizations are largely inert and ultimately fail. A second perspective argues that some firms do learn and adapt to shifting environmental contexts. Recently, this latter view has coalesced around two themes. The first, based on research in strategy suggests that dynamic capabilities, the ability of a firm to reconfigure assets and existing capabilities, explains long-term competitive advantage. The second, based on organizational design, argues that ambidexterity, the ability of a firm to simultaneously explore and exploit, enables a firm to adapt over time. In this paper we review and integrate these comparatively new research streams and identify a set of propositions that suggest how ambidexterity acts as a dynamic capability. We suggest that efficiency and innovation need not be strategic tradeoffs and highlight the substantive role of senior teams in building dynamic capabilities.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Stanford University, Graduate School of Business in its series Research Papers with number 1963.

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    Date of creation: Mar 2007
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:1963

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    Postal: Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-5015
    Phone: (650) 723-2146
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    Web page: http://gsbapps.stanford.edu/researchpapers/
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    1. Jatinder S. Sidhu & Henk W. Volberda & Harry R. Commandeur, 2004. "Exploring Exploration Orientation and its Determinants: Some Empirical Evidence," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(6), pages 913-932, 09.
    2. Jongseok Lee & Jeho Lee & Habin Lee, 2003. "Exploration and Exploitation in the Presence of Network Externalities," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(4), pages 553-570, April.
    3. Tripsas, Mary, 1997. "Surviving Radical Technological Change through Dynamic Capability: Evidence from the Typesetter Industry," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 341-77, March.
    4. Haim Mendelson & Ravindran R. Pillai, 1999. "Industry Clockspeed: Measurement and Operational Implications," Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, INFORMS, vol. 1(1), pages 1-20.
    5. Lee Fleming, 2002. "Finding the organizational sources of technological breakthroughs: the story of Hewlett-Packard's thermal ink-jet," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(5), pages 1059-1084, November.
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    7. Francisco LouÁ� & Sandro MendonÁa, 2002. "Steady change: the 200 largest US manufacturing firms throughout the 20th century," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(4), pages 817-845, August.
    8. Jansen, J.J.P. & van den Bosch, F.A.J. & Volberda, H.W., 2005. "Managing Potential and Realized Absorptive Capacity: How do Organizational Antecedents matter?," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2005-025-STR, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus Uni.
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    10. Carl Shapiro, 1989. "The Theory of Business Strategy," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 20(1), pages 125-137, Spring.
    11. Nickerson, J.A. & Zenger, T.R., 1999. "Being Efficiently Fickle: a Dynamic Theory of Organizational Choice," Washington University 99-01, Business, Law and Economics Center, John M. Olin School of Business, Washington University.
    12. Justin J.P. Jansen & Frans A.J. Van den Bosch & Henk W. Volberda, 2005. "Exploratory Innovation, Exploitative Innovation, And Ambidexterity: The Impact Of Environmental And Organizational Antecedents," Schmalenbach Business Review (sbr), LMU Munich School of Management, vol. 57(4), pages 351-363, October.
    13. Steven Klepper, 2002. "The capabilities of new firms and the evolution of the US automobile industry," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(4), pages 645-666, August.
    14. Ghemawat, Pankaj & Ricart, Joan E., 1993. "Organizational tension between static and dynamic efficiency, The," IESE Research Papers D/255, IESE Business School.
    15. Sull, Donald N & Tedlow, Richard S & Rosenbloom, Richard S, 1997. "Managerial Commitments and Technological Change in the US Tire Industry," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 461-501, March.
    16. Julio Rotemberg & Garth Saloner, 2000. "Visionaries, Managers, and Strategic Direction," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(4), pages 693-716, Winter.
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    Cited by:
    1. Gedajlovic, Eric & Cao, Qing & Zhang, Hongping, 2012. "Corporate shareholdings and organizational ambidexterity in high-tech SMEs: Evidence from a transitional economy," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 652-665.
    2. Prange, Christiane & Verdier, Sylvie, 2011. "Dynamic capabilities, internationalization processes and performance," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 126-133, January.
    3. Basu, Sandip & Phelps, Corey & Kotha, Suresh, 2011. "Towards understanding who makes corporate venture capital investments and why," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 153-171, March.
    4. Broström, Anders, 2011. "Learning by doing in science linkages," Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation 252, Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies.
    5. Jansen, J.J.P., 2011. "Corporate Entrepreneurship: Sensing and Seizing Opportunities for a Prosperous Research Agenda," ERIM Inaugural Address Series Research in Management EIA-2011-046-STR, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus Uni.
    6. Laurence Lehmann-Ortega & Gérald Naro, 2008. "Controle De Gestion, Capacites Dynamiques Et Strategies Emergentes Dans Les Organisations Entrepreneuriales : La Conception D'Un Balanced-Scorecard Comme « Levier De Controle Interactif »," Post-Print halshs-00525411, HAL.
    7. Kinne, Peter, 2013. "Balanced Governance: Komplexitätsbewältigung durch ausgewogenes Managen im Spannungsfeld erfolgskritischer Polaritäten," Arbeitspapiere der FOM 32, FOM Hochschule für Oekonomie & Management.

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