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Managing innovation paradoxes: Ambidexterity lessons from leading product design companies

Andriopoulos, Constantine and Lewis, Marianne 2010. Managing innovation paradoxes: Ambidexterity lessons from leading product design companies. Long Range Planning 43 (1) , pp. 104-122. 10.1016/j.lrp.2009.08.003

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Companies frequently attempt to gain a competitive advantage in their market through innovation, yet this critical factor is often elusive. Obtaining innovation requires both exploration to tap new opportunities and exploitation to enhance existing capabilities. The ability to excel at these conflicting modes of innovation can be termed organisational ambidexterity. But how do highly innovative companies foster ambidexterity throughout the organisation? The authors of this paper examined seven market-leading companies in product design – an industry renowned for innovation. The results offer three lessons in ambidexterity that showcase the power of paradox. First, paradoxes can fuel, as well as frustrate innovation. The case study companies embraced nested paradoxes of innovation: long-term adaptability against short-term survival; possibilities-constraints; diversity-cohesiveness; and passion-discipline. Second, innovation paradoxes require paradoxical management approaches. Each company used integration techniques, stressing both/and thinking to foster synergy, and splitting techniques, separating tensions to focus resources and action. Lastly, paradox guides a common managerial approach, but enables contextual variations. While the case studies share overarching patterns, integration and splitting practices differed, often depending on company size.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0024-6301
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:09

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