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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 Economics Research Papers 2015-024, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  • Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2015-024

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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.
    3. Marco-Lajara, Bartolomé & Úbeda-García, Mercedes & Zaragoza-Sáez, Patrocinio del Carmen & García-Lillo, Francisco, 2022. "Agglomeration, social capital and interorganizational ambidexterity in tourist districts," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 141(C), pages 126-136.

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    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

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