Unravelling the process dimension of ambidexterity: Reinterpreting a case of collaborative digital sensitization

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Shifts in technologies and economic structures impel organizations to innovate within their boundaries and with external partners. We consider ambidexterity theory a useful perspective to understand how organizations succeed in innovation through exploitation and exploration. While most ambidexterity research focuses on resources, this chapter takes a process view. Theorizing about processes that capture the dynamics of organizational functioning is useful in large-scale, longterm innovation. In these projects, multiple organizations contribute complementary competences and simultaneously engage in closed (not in the public domain) and/or open innovation projects (involving companies, government and academia). The case of collaborative digital services along the maritime value chain provides our empirical setting. We focus on participating organizations by identifying processes that enable their exploration and exploitation activities and, more specifically, how interorganizational exploration can be dynamically embedded in their organizations. The findings reveal six strategic organizational processes that forge a connection between exploitation and exploration, and encourage a shift from a strategic view on resources towards a view that considers processes enacted by resources. The specific processes show how exploration with external partners relates to exploitation inside an organization, thereby moving beyond traditional research distinctions into short-term exploitation versus long-term exploration, and closed versus open innovation.




van Fenema, P. C., & Mahr, D. (2020). Unravelling the process dimension of ambidexterity: Reinterpreting a case of collaborative digital sensitization. In The Yin-Yang Military: Ambidextrous Perspectives on Change in Military Organizations (pp. 18–36). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-52433-3_2

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