Title: Organisational ambidexterity in the search phase of the innovation process. Evidence from a leading case study

Authors: Silvia Cantarello; Corrado Carretti; Roberto Giannantonio; Anna Nosella

Addresses: Dipartimento di Tecnica e Gestione dei Sistemi Industriali, Università di Padova, Stradella S. Nicola 3, 36100 Vicenza, Italy ' SAES Getters S.p.A., Viale Italia 77, 20020 Lainate (Milan), Italy ' SAES Getters S.p.A., Viale Italia 77, 20020 Lainate (Milan), Italy ' Dipartimento di Tecnica e Gestione dei Sistemi Industriali, Università di Padova, Stradella S. Nicola 3, 36100 Vicenza, Italy

Abstract: How firms succeed in reconciling the exploitation of existing knowledge with the exploration of new possibilities is an open question in the literature and it represents the core of our paper, the aim of which is to explore how firms have actually achieved ambidexterity capability. In order to do so, we decided to focus on the very early phase of the process where firms search for new ideas with which to renew themselves. In particular, we analysed the search phase of a highly innovative technology-based company by investigating the structural design choices combined with the presence of specific roles and searching practices. The results show how exploration and exploitation can actually be achieved simultaneously and maintained through a multilevel approach that integrates both the operational and the strategic levels. Our findings, thus, contribute to the organisational ambidexterity literature by proposing a first interpretative model for dealing with ambidexterity in the search phase of the innovation process.

Keywords: multi-level analysis; innovation processes; organisational ambidexterity; search phases; existing knowledge; new ideas; technology-based companies; structural design; specific roles; searching practices; exploration; exploitation; operational levels; strategic levels; SAES Getters; Italy; knowledge management; KM; organisational learning; strategic learning; absorptive capacity.

DOI: 10.1504/IJKMS.2012.051951

International Journal of Knowledge Management Studies, 2012 Vol.5 No.1/2, pp.133 - 153

Accepted: 27 Sep 2012
Published online: 05 Feb 2013 *

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