IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Cluster Ambidexterity towards Exploration and Exploitation - Strategies and Cluster Management


  • Uwe Cantner

    (School of Economics and Business Administration, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, and University of Southern Denmark, Odense)

  • Holger Graf

    (School of Economics and Business Administration, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena)

  • Michael Rothgang

    (Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Essen)

  • Tina Wolf

    (School of Economics and Business Administration, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena)


Cluster studies have shown that innovation can be understood as the result of an inter-organizational process, where a division of labor with regard to exploration and exploitation exists among the actors inside the cluster. A cluster is ambidextrous if it manages to balance innovative activities that exploit existing competencies and is open to novel technological approaches by means of exploration. In this context we are interested in the supportive role of cluster management, assuming that a cluster organization can only persist sustainably if exploitation and exploration are pursued in an appropriate balance. Our analysis is based on surveys that have been conducted between 2011 and 2012 with 10 cluster managements and their respective cluster firms of the first two rounds of the German Leading Edge Cluster Competition. Our results indicate that the demand for services offered by the cluster management depends on companies' strategies with respect to exploration, exploitation and ambidexterity. In turn, the priorities set by the cluster management can be explained by the firm' needs. Accordingly, we argue that the cluster management acts as a service provider helping the cluster companies to become ambidextrous which in turn makes the cluster as a whole ambidextrous.

Suggested Citation

  • Uwe Cantner & Holger Graf & Michael Rothgang & Tina Wolf, 2015. "Cluster Ambidexterity towards Exploration and Exploitation - Strategies and Cluster Management," Jena Economic Research Papers 2015-024, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  • Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2015-024

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James G. March, 1991. "Exploration and Exploitation in Organizational Learning," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 2(1), pages 71-87, February.
    2. Dirk Fornahl & Robert Hassink & Max-Peter Menzel, 2015. "Broadening Our Knowledge on Cluster Evolution," European Planning Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(10), pages 1921-1931, October.
    3. Howells, Jeremy, 2006. "Intermediation and the role of intermediaries in innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(5), pages 715-728, June.
    4. Gilsing, Victor & Nooteboom, Bart, 2006. "Exploration and exploitation in innovation systems: The case of pharmaceutical biotechnology," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 1-23, February.
    5. Anders Malmberg & Peter Maskell, 2002. "The Elusive Concept of Localization Economies: Towards a Knowledge-Based Theory of Spatial Clustering," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 34(3), pages 429-449, March.
    6. Paul S. Adler & Barbara Goldoftas & David I. Levine, 1999. "Flexibility Versus Efficiency? A Case Study of Model Changeovers in the Toyota Production System," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 10(1), pages 43-68, February.
    7. Cristiano Antonelli, 2006. "The Business Governance of Localized Knowledge: An Information Economics Approach for the Economics of Knowledge," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(3), pages 227-261.
    8. Uriel Stettner & Dovev Lavie, 2014. "Ambidexterity under scrutiny: Exploration and exploitation via internal organization, alliances, and acquisitions," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(13), pages 1903-1929, December.
    9. Ferrary, Michel, 2011. "Specialized organizations and ambidextrous clusters in the open innovation paradigm," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 181-192, June.
    10. Lynn, Leonard H. & Mohan Reddy, N. & Aram, John D., 1996. "Linking technology and institutions: the innovation community framework," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 91-106, January.
    11. Peter Boumgarden & Jackson Nickerson & Todd R. Zenger, 2012. "Sailing into the wind: Exploring the relationships among ambidexterity, vacillation, and organizational performance," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(6), pages 587-610, June.
    12. Sebastian Raisch & Julian Birkinshaw & Gilbert Probst & Michael L. Tushman, 2009. "Organizational Ambidexterity: Balancing Exploitation and Exploration for Sustained Performance," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 20(4), pages 685-695, August.
    13. Dohse, Dirk, 2000. "Technology policy and the regions -- the case of the BioRegio contest," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(9), pages 1111-1133, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Uwe Cantner & Holger Graf & Michael Rothgang, 2019. "Geographical clustering and the evaluation of cluster policies: introduction," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 44(6), pages 1665-1672, December.
    2. Stefan Töpfer & Uwe Cantner & Holger Graf, 2019. "Structural dynamics of innovation networks in German Leading-Edge Clusters," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 44(6), pages 1816-1839, December.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Rachel Bocquet & Caroline Mothe, 2015. "Can a governance structure foster cluster ambidexterity through knowledge management? An empirical study of two French SME clusters," Post-Print hal-01132584, HAL.
    2. Arman Avadikyan & Gilles Lambert & Christophe Lerch, 2016. "A Multi-Level Perspective on Ambidexterity: The Case of a Synchrotron Research Facility," Working Papers of BETA 2016-44, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
    3. O'Reilly, Charles A., III & Tushman, Michael L., 2013. "Organizational Ambidexterity: Past, Present and Future," Research Papers 2130, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    4. Katsuki Aoki & Miriam Wilhelm, 2017. "The Role of Ambidexterity in Managing Buyer–Supplier Relationships: The Toyota Case," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 28(6), pages 1080-1097, December.
    5. Partanen, Jukka & Kohtamäki, Marko & Patel, Pankaj C. & Parida, Vinit, 2020. "Supply chain ambidexterity and manufacturing SME performance: The moderating roles of network capability and strategic information flow," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 221(C).
    6. Manuel Guisado-González & Jennifer González-Blanco & José Luis Coca-Pérez, 2019. "Exploration, exploitation, and firm age in alliance portfolios," Eurasian Business Review, Springer;Eurasia Business and Economics Society, vol. 9(4), pages 387-406, December.
    7. Solís-Molina, Miguel & Hernández-Espallardo, Miguel & Rodríguez-Orejuela, Augusto, 2018. "Performance implications of organizational ambidexterity versus specialization in exploitation or exploration: The role of absorptive capacity," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 181-194.
    8. Armin Anzenbacher & Marcus Wagner, 2020. "The role of exploration and exploitation for innovation success: effects of business models on organizational ambidexterity in the semiconductor industry," International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 571-594, June.
    9. Lin, Liang-Hung & Ho, Yu-Ling, 2021. "Ambidextrous governance and alliance performance under dynamic environments: An empirical investigation of Taiwanese technology alliances," Technovation, Elsevier, vol. 103(C).
    10. Sunkee Lee & Philipp Meyer-Doyle, 2017. "How Performance Incentives Shape Individual Exploration and Exploitation: Evidence from Microdata," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 28(1), pages 19-38, February.
    11. Johannes Luger & Sebastian Raisch & Markus Schimmer, 2018. "Dynamic Balancing of Exploration and Exploitation: The Contingent Benefits of Ambidexterity," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 29(3), pages 449-470, June.
    12. Jan Ossenbrink & Joern Hoppmann & Volker H. Hoffmann, 2019. "Hybrid Ambidexterity: How the Environment Shapes Incumbents’ Use of Structural and Contextual Approaches," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(6), pages 1319-1348, November.
    13. Sunkee Lee, 2019. "Learning-by-Moving: Can Reconfiguring Spatial Proximity Between Organizational Members Promote Individual-level Exploration?," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(3), pages 467-488, May.
    14. Ferry Koster & Gina van Bree, 2018. "How Managers Evoke Ambidexterity and Collaboration: A Qualitative Study in a Dutch Hospital," International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management (IJITM), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 15(06), pages 1-19, December.
    15. Katou, Anastasia A. & Budhwar, Pawan S. & Patel, Charmi, 2021. "A trilogy of organizational ambidexterity: Leader’s social intelligence, employee work engagement and environmental changes," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 688-700.
    16. L. M. Daphne Yiu & Hugo K. S. Lam & Andy C. L. Yeung & T. C. E. Cheng, 2020. "Enhancing the Financial Returns of R&D Investments through Operations Management," Production and Operations Management, Production and Operations Management Society, vol. 29(7), pages 1658-1678, July.
    17. François Constant & Richard Calvi & Thomas Johnsen, 2020. "Managing tensions between exploitative and exploratory innovation through purchasing function ambidexterity Managing tensions between exploitative and exploratory innovation through purchasing functio," Post-Print hal-02891790, HAL.
    18. Mahmood, Tarique & Mubarik, Muhammad Shujaat, 2020. "Balancing innovation and exploitation in the fourth industrial revolution: Role of intellectual capital and technology absorptive capacity," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 160(C).
    19. Malik, Ashish & Sinha, Paresha & Pereira, Vijay & Rowley, Chris, 2019. "Implementing global-local strategies in a post-GFC era: Creating an ambidextrous context through strategic choice and HRM," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 557-569.
    20. Venugopal, Aparna & Krishnan, T.N. & Upadhyayula, Rajesh Srinivas & Kumar, Manish, 2020. "Finding the microfoundations of organizational ambidexterity - Demystifying the role of top management behavioural integration," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 1-11.

    More about this item


    Cluster; Ambidexterity; Cluster Management; Exploration; Exploitation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2015-024. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Markus Pasche (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.