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Exploration and exploitation: Do actual behaviors match individuals' perceptions?

  • Sara Bonesso

    ()

    (Department of Management, Università Ca' Foscari Venezia)

  • Fabrizio Gerli

    ()

    (Department of Management, Università Ca' Foscari Venezia)

  • Annachiara Scapolan

    ()

    (Department of Communication and Economics, Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia)

Research on contextual ambidexterity assumes that an organizationÕs capacity to pursue simultaneously exploration and exploitation leverages on organizational solutions encouraging a balance between these two learning orientations. However, limited attention has as yet been devoted to the investigation of contextual ambidexterity at the individual level of analysis. Starting from this gap, this paper addresses the following research questions: How do individuals perceive the learning orientation required of them by their job? Do individualsÕ behaviors match their perceived orientation? How can the matching/mismatching between perceptions and behaviors be explained? To address these issues a multiple case study of 16 managers and assistants in the R&D and Sales units of four medium enterprises located in Northeast Italy was carried out. Our findings show that perceptions and actual behaviors, as dimensions of the personal ambidexterity, are independent of each other and can determine a misalignment with the organizational ambidexterity. Accordingly, we propose a conceptual and operational framework, in which the interplay among individual factors such as prior work experiences and personal characteristics, through the mechanism of role stressors, mold both dimensions of personal ambidexterity.

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File URL: http://virgo.unive.it/wpideas/storage/2012wp7.pdf
File Function: First version, 2012
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Paper provided by Department of Management, Università Ca' Foscari Venezia in its series Working Papers with number 7.

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Length: 15 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:vnm:wpdman:20
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  1. Mom, T.J.M. & van den Bosch, F.A.J. & Volberda, H.W., 2006. "Investigating Managers' Exploration and Exploitation Activities: The Influence of Top-down, Bottom-up, and Horizontal Knowledge Inflows," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2006-078-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.
  2. Jansen, J.J.P. & van den Bosch, F.A.J. & Volberda, H.W., 2006. "Exploratory Innovation, Exploitative Innovation, and Performance: Effects of Organizational Antecedents and Environmental Moderators," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2006-038-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.
  3. Sébastien Brion & Caroline Mothe & Maréva Sabatier, 2010. "The Impact Of Organisational Context And Competences On Innovation Ambidexterity," International Journal of Innovation Management (ijim), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 14(02), pages 151-178.
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