Senior Teams, Innovation Streams, and Structural Ambidexterity



Abstract presentation Costas Andriopoulos

Organizations face numerous paradoxes, evident in such tensions as innovation-efficiency, local-global, stability-change. As environments become fast-paced, global, and competitive and internal processes become more complex, competing demands become intense. Ambidextrous organizations excel at exploiting existing products to enable incremental innovation, and exploring new opportunities to foster more radical innovation. Yet, related research is limited. Largely conceptual, anecdotal or single case studies offer architectural or contextual approaches. Architectural ambidexterity proposes dual structures and strategies to differentiate efforts, focusing actors on one or the other form of innovation. In contrast, contextual approaches use behavioral and social means to integrate exploitation and exploration. Building from innovation and paradox literature, we theorize how integration and differentiation tactics help manage interwoven paradoxes and fuel virtuous cycles of ambidexterity. Managing paradoxes becomes a shared responsibility, not only of top management but across organizational levels. We conclude by providing directions for further development of this literature.

Abstract presentation Mike Tushman

Dynamic capabilities have been proposed as a useful way to understand how organizations are able to adapt to changes in technology and markets. Organizational ambidexterity, the ability of senior managers to seize opportunities through the orchestration and integration of existing assets to overcome inertia and path dependence, is a core dynamic capability. While promising, research on dynamic capabilities and ambidexterity has not yet been able to specify the micro-mechanisms through which senior managers are actually able to reallocate resources and reconfigure assets to simultaneously explore and exploit. Using interviews and qualitative case studies from thirteen organizations attempting to be ambidextrous, we explore the actions senior managers took to implement ambidextrous designs and identify actions that helped or hindered them in their attempts. Results suggest that a set of interrelated choices of organization design and senior team process discriminate between those more versus less successful attempts to build ambidextrous firms. These interrelated activities include the structural separation of explore and exploit units and the ability of the leader to host contradictory strategic agendas.

Contact information:
Patricia de Wilde-Mes