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Exploration and exploitation in the development of more entrepreneurial universities: A twisting learning path model of ambidexterity

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  • Centobelli, Piera
  • Cerchione, Roberto
  • Esposito, Emilio
  • Shashi,

Abstract

The paper conducts a systematic literature review on the development process of universities towards the entrepreneurial model to provide a conceptual framework and a strategic research agenda. From the analysis of the body of literature on the topic, exploration and exploitation emerge as critical processes in the development of entrepreneurial universities. Nevertheless, the way they are balanced within universities is an under-researched topic. Adapted from the concept of organisational ambidexterity, this paper develops the notion of university ambidexterity to analyse the development process of entrepreneurial universities. To achieve this research aim, a conceptual model is developed by integrating the learning processes of exploration and exploitation to the previous theories used to analyse the entrepreneurial university. As already emphasised in other studies focusing on the role of ambidexterity in different research contexts, this paper proposes an idea of balance over time. The universities need to balance exploration and exploitation in their evolutionary path towards the entrepreneurial model, but it may be not necessary to invest in exploration and exploitation processes simultaneously. On the contrary, it may be most important to oscillate between periods of exploration and periods of exploitation to achieve ambidexterity over time. As a result, the tensions between exploration and exploitation processes generate a twisting learning path for entrepreneurial universities. Finally, the paper proposes an integrated conceptual framework which consists of six constructs, namely internal organisational environment, external environment, university exploration, university exploitation, university ambidexterity, entrepreneurial university performance. The proposed research hypotheses on the interrelationships between the mentioned constructs and the mediating role of university ambidexterity constitute potential areas of investigation to direct future empirical research and further develop the body of knowledge in the field of entrepreneurial universities.

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  • Centobelli, Piera & Cerchione, Roberto & Esposito, Emilio & Shashi,, 2019. "Exploration and exploitation in the development of more entrepreneurial universities: A twisting learning path model of ambidexterity," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 141(C), pages 172-194.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:tefoso:v:141:y:2019:i:c:p:172-194
    DOI: 10.1016/j.techfore.2018.10.014
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