Title: Balancing exploration and exploitation tension in coopetition: the case of European space innovation programmes

Authors: Anne-Sophie Fernandez; Fiona Xiaoying Ji; Saïd Yami

Addresses: Montpellier Research in Management, University of Montpellier 1, Espace Richter, Rue Vendémiaire, Bât. B, CS 19519 – 34960 Montpellier, Cedex, France ' Department of Management, College of Business, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701, USA ' Montpellier Research in Management, University of Montpellier 1, KEDGE Business School Espace Richter, Rue Vendémiaire, Bât. B, CS 19519 – 34960 Montpellier, Cedex, France

Abstract: Coopetition is filled with multiple tensions. A major one results from the dilemma between exploration and exploitation. Because tensions could inhibit the impact of coopetition on innovation performance, they need to be managed. A theoretical gap appears on the management of exploration/exploitation tension in a coopetition context. This article aims to fill this gap. A framework based on the concept of ambidexterity is proposed and discussed regarding the results of the in-depth case study of two collaborative innovative programmes conducted by two competitors within the space industry. Findings highlight that innovation performance requires a balance between exploration and exploitation reached thanks to specific ambidextrous capabilities at both organisational and team levels. At the organisational level, ambidexterity allows partners to manage strategic information, to equally divide the industrial activity and to decide a resource sharing process. At the team level, project manager internalise the paradox and daily manage tensions between sharing and protecting knowledge.

Keywords: coopetition; exploration and exploitation tension; innovation performance; European space innovation programmes.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBE.2014.058024

International Journal of Business Environment, 2014 Vol.6 No.1, pp.69 - 91

Received: 08 May 2021
Accepted: 12 May 2021

Published online: 26 Nov 2013 *

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