For publication in: Technology, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Competitive Strategy, Volume 14 (2014)
Despite a growing body of research on exploration and exploitation in the management literature, scholars have tended to study this phenomenon from a narrow perspective mostly within larger, well-established organizations (Gupta, Smith, & Shalley, 2006; Jansen, Simsek, & Cao, 2012; Lavie, Stettner, & Tushman, 2010). Exploration and exploitation are conflicting organizational activities that compete for firms’ scarce resources and entail distinctive sets of skills and capabilities. When engaging in exploration and exploitation, organizations trade off short-term productivity for long-term innovation as well as stability for adaptability (Lewin, Long, & Carroll, 1999; March, 1991). Although both exploration and exploitation are essential for survival and prosperity, limited resource availability compels firms to prefer one type of activity over the other. Nevertheless, achieving a balance between exploration and exploitation is essential for firms’ survival and economic performance (March, 1991).
This volume of Technology, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Competitive Strategy is devoted to research aimed at understanding the implications of Exploration and Exploitation activities in early-stage ventures and small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs). We seek papers that explore how such organizations engage the general paradox of having to balance their exploration and exploitation activities. This paradox may intensify in such firms as they generally lack an abundance of resources and capabilities (Ahuja, Lampert, & Tandon, 2008; Voss, Sirdeshmukh, & Voss, 2008) driving them away from balancing these activities and towards either exploration or exploitation. Potential research topics might include but are not limited to research that offer insights into the performance implications of balancing exploration and exploitation; balancing mechanism; strategies of early-stage ventures for building firm-level resources and competencies (Human resources, financial capital, etc.); creating dynamic capabilities; and implications to organizational creativity and innovativeness (e.g., Adner & Levinthal, 2008; Greve, 2007; Hess & Rothaermel, 2011; Jansen, Van Den Bosch, & Volberda, 2006; O’Reilly & Tushman, 2008; Russo & Vurro, 2010; Tzabbar, Aharonson, Amburgey, & Al-Laham, 2008).
We welcome contributions that tackle these and related issues from a variety of theoretical and empirical perspectives. Contributions to this TIE-CS volume may take a range of forms, may focus on different levels of analysis, and may employ both quantitative and qualitative approaches.
Adner, R., & Levinthal, D. 2008. Doing versus seeing: acts of exploitation and perceptions of exploration. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 2(1).
Ahuja, G., Lampert, C. M., & Tandon, V. 2008. Moving beyond Schumpeter: Management research on the determinants of technological innovation. The Academy of Management Annals, 2(1): 1–98.
Greve, H. R. 2007. Exploration and exploitation in product innovation. Industrial and Corporate Change, 16(5): 945–975.
Gupta, A. K., Smith, K., & Shalley, C. E. 2006. The interplay between Exploration and Exploitation. Academy of Management Journal, 49(4): 693–706.
Hess, A. M., & Rothaermel, F. T. 2011. When are assets complementary? Star scientists, strategic alliances, and innovation in the pharmaceutical industry. Strategic Management Journal, 32: 895–909.
Jansen, J., Van Den Bosch, F. A. J., & Volberda, H. W. 2006. Exploratory innovation, exploitative innovation, and performance: Effects of organizational antecedents and environmental moderators. Management Science, 52(11): 1661–1674.
Jansen, J. J. P., Simsek, Z., & Cao, Q. 2012. Ambidexterity and performance in multiunit contexts: Cross-level moderating effects of structural and resource attributes. Strategic Management Journal.
Lavie, D., Stettner, U., & Tushman, M. 2010. Exploration and exploitation within and across organizations. The Academy of Management Annals, 4(1): 109–155.
Lewin, A. Y., Long, C. P., & Carroll, T. N. 1999. The Coevolution of New Organizational Forms. Organization Science, 10(5): 535–550.
March, J. G. 1991. Exploration and exploitation in organizational learning. Organization Science, 2(1): 71–87.
O’Reilly, C. A. I., & Tushman, M. L. 2008. Ambidexterity as a dynamic capability: Resolving the innovator’s dilemma. Research in Organizational Behavior, 28: 185–206.
Russo, A., & Vurro, C. 2010. Cross-boundary ambidexterity: Balancing exploration and exploitation in the fuel cell industry. European Management Review, 7(1): 30–45.
Tzabbar, D., Aharonson, B. S., Amburgey, T. L., & Al-Laham, A. 2008. When is the whole bigger than the sum of its parts? Bundling knowledge stocks for innovative success. Strategic Organization, 6(4): 375.
Voss, G. B., Sirdeshmukh, D., & Voss, Z. G. 2008. The effects of slack resources and environmental threat on products exploration exploitation. Academy of Management Journal, 51(1): 147–164.