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

  • O'Reilly, Charles A., III

    (Stanford U)

  • Tushman, Michael

    (Harvard U)

Registered author(s):

    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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    File URL: http://gsbapps.stanford.edu/researchpapers/library/RP1963.pdf
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    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
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    Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:1963
    Contact details of provider: 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. 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.
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    8. Helfat, C.E. & Raubitschek, R.S., 2000. "Product Sequencing: Co-Evolution of Knowledge, Capabilities and Products," Papers 00-1, U.S. Department of Justice - Antitrust Division.
    9. 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.
    10. 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 University Rotterdam.
    11. 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.
    12. 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.
    13. Carl Shapiro, 1989. "The Theory of Business Strategy," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 20(1), pages 125-137, Spring.
    14. 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.
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    16. Henry Chesbrough & Richard S. Rosenbloom, 2002. "The role of the business model in capturing value from innovation: evidence from Xerox Corporation's technology spin-off companies," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(3), pages 529-555, June.
    17. Ghemawat, Pankaj & Ricart, Joan E., 1993. "Organizational tension between static and dynamic efficiency, The," IESE Research Papers D/255, IESE Business School.
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