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

Author

Listed:
  • 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)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Sara Bonesso & Fabrizio Gerli & Annachiara Scapolan, 2012. "Exploration and exploitation: Do actual behaviors match individuals' perceptions?," Working Papers 7, Department of Management, Università Ca' Foscari Venezia.
  • Handle: RePEc:vnm:wpdman:20
    as

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    File URL: http://virgo.unive.it/wpideas/storage/2012wp7.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2012
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. James G. March, 1991. "Exploration and Exploitation in Organizational Learning," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 2(1), pages 71-87, February.
    2. Tom J. M. Mom & Frans A. J. Van Den Bosch & Henk W. Volberda, 2007. "Investigating Managers' Exploration and Exploitation Activities: The Influence of Top-Down, Bottom-Up, and Horizontal Knowledge Inflows," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(6), pages 910-931, September.
    3. Justin J. P. Jansen & Frans A. J. Van Den Bosch & Henk W. Volberda, 2006. "Exploratory Innovation, Exploitative Innovation, and Performance: Effects of Organizational Antecedents and Environmental Moderators," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(11), pages 1661-1674, November.
    4. Tom J. M. Mom & Frans A. J. van den Bosch & Henk W. Volberda, 2009. "Understanding Variation in Managers' Ambidexterity: Investigating Direct and Interaction Effects of Formal Structural and Personal Coordination Mechanisms," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 20(4), pages 812-828, August.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Nicolaj Siggelkow & Daniel A. Levinthal, 2003. "Temporarily Divide to Conquer: Centralized, Decentralized, and Reintegrated Organizational Approaches to Exploration and Adaptation," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 14(6), pages 650-669, December.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Exploration; Exploitation; Ambidexterity; Learning orientation; Individual behavior;

    JEL classification:

    • M10 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - General
    • M12 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Personnel Management; Executives; Executive Compensation

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