The Balance Between Exploitation And Exploring Of Resources


The organization has to find a balance between the exploitation of its existing resources and the new exploring (Wernerfelt, 1984). It is necessary to develop technological capabilities to protect its market position. March (1991) defends the idea that organizational adaptation requires both operating and exploration, so to be conducted successfully over the long term. The essence of exploration is experimentation with new alternatives (March, 1991). Feedbacks are remote, uncertain and often negative for the exploitation. The ambidexterity refers to the continuation of synchronized exploitation and exploration, through units (structural ambidexterity) or different individuals (contextual ambidexterity), each one is specializing in the operation or in the exploration (Gupta and Smith, 2006). The joint management of innovation research and exploration operations appears to be a defining issue for the long term success of companies.

For company, a question arises: how to choose among these various forms of organizational innovation management? To try to answer this question, two aspects must be addressed by research. First, it should consider how established companies, the know-how, are organized to carry out these two types of innovation and the development of cooperation if a solution is to increase the radical innovations. Then there are questions about the determinants of organizational choices made by firms observed.

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The idea that the long-term success of the company rests on its ability to not only build on existing skills and improve the efficiency of the company, but also to explore entirely new fields is largely common in organizational theory. Yet we know little about the how organizations manage the dilemma between exploitation and exploration, and the possible simultaneous combination of these two activities. Research existing management have mainly presented this phenomenon in terms of discrete and dichotomous (divided and subdivided into two), forcing firms to choose between the two types of activities. However, the orientation of the company on one of these dimensions been linked to suboptimal performance and an increased risk of failure long term. Successful organizations combine exploitation and exploration instead of favoring one side over the other. The burgeoning literature on ambidextrous organizations specifically seeks to overcome the limitations of models exist to allow the simultaneous combination of these two strategies.


Continuous innovation (Verona and Ravasi, 2003) is feasible in the long term through the combination of exploration innovations and exploitation. We define exploration innovations (Danneels, 2002; Benner and Tushman, 2003; O'Reilly and Tushman, 2004) as innovations that require new knowledge or new skills for company, on the technological or marketing sector.

Innovation exploration will be seen as a form of innovation that moves away from significantly from the existing core competencies of the company on the client axis or

on the technology axis. Innovation exploitation refers to operating strategies based on innovation accelerating the innovation process from technological & marketing skills of company (Chanal and Mothe, 2005).

In summary, exploration innovations and exploitation innovations differs from incremental and radical innovations because they focus on the concept of competencies (marketing and / or technological) more than on the degree of novelty of innovation (Dougherty and Hardy, 1996; Danneels, 2002 and Benner and Tushman, 2003). These two forms of innovation when combined, give the organization a dual structure. This combination gives the organization a character ambidextrous.

Three forms of ambidexterity can be identified in the literature:

The structural ambidexterity by Benner and Tushman (in 2003) is view as the integration of operations and exploration in separate units. The need for balance appropriate between these two types of activities has been crystallized by the conceptualization of Tushman and O'Reilly (1996) of the ambidextrous organization with the capacity to be both competitive in mature markets (where the notions of cost, efficiency and innovation incremental are critical) and innovative in terms of product development for emerging markets (where experimentation and flexibility are the main keys).

More recently, Gibson and Birkinshaw (2004) and Birkinshaw and Gibson (2004) introduce the concept of contextual ambidexterity, the ability for behavioral (not structural) to achieve alignment in the short term and long-term adaptation - defined as the ability to quickly reconfigure operations within a single SBU (strategic business unit) to respond to environmental changes.

Finally ambidexterity network (McNamara, Baden-Fuller, 1999) can be defined as the balance of operations and exploration externally via the network, focusing on large companies operating around their core business and small entities (or start-up) on innovation exploration. It should be noted that this type of dual wielding is far from stable and many discussions are going around that concept.

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In addition, companies often respond to the difficulties of implementing a policy of innovation by establishing cooperative relations. Such cooperation can serve as a generator of innovation because they provide access to knowledge and resources unavailable elsewhere (Powell, Kogut Smith-Doerr, 1996). Thus, organizations often have access not only to resources they have internally, but also the resources of their external environments. Goes and Park (1997) show that firms, taken individually, do not have the ability to seek and develop new concepts and ideas effectively. Stuart and Podolny (1996) show a significant positive relationship between a company's propensity to bind external relations and its degree of innovation in fields that are not directly related to those in which it had developed technologies in past. Appealing to skills of external partners could then facilitate innovation, and more particularly outside the traditional expertise of the organization, that is to say exploratory innovations. The cooperation may well be of help valuable in the search for ambidexterity organizations. The finding of the existence of multiple organizational forms to manage innovation leads us to adopt a contingency approach to organization. It is not so for the researcher to identify how best to manage innovation, but to reveal the harmony between organizational forms and context (internal and external) of the company.


"To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often." Winston Churchil

The environment in which businesses currently undergoing major changes (deregulation, an explosion of competition, globalization,...) technological innovations that lead them to question their methods of management and organization. Understanding the implications of organizational changes made by many companies seems to become a key issue for survival. Recent studies dealing with a large number of theories about change (Van de Ven, Poole, 1995) and passing through several empirical studies (Barnett, Carroll, 1995) are also underlined the need for more work in this area.

It is often said that the only thing that is constant is change. It's the truth. Within companies, change is constant: due to the market, staff changes, new regulations, availability of resources, and technological advances. These changes may include changes in policies and procedures, processes, systems, personnel, products, services, equipment, materials, etc.. Change management refers to the ability to query, analyze and decide on a change in a document, process, or object, then track the status of this change.

Managing change is not just a matter of good practice for most companies is also the law. In accordance with many standards and regulatory guidelines, change control, or management and control of change within an enterprise, shall be conducted so that the company can maintain and improve quality by identifying changes which could improve the product, through monitoring and analysis of the changes, documenting and communicating the changes to relevant stakeholders. For example, according to ISO standards, source of inspiration for continuous improvement and control of documents, it is argued that the change must be managed. 

Organizations that seek to integrate the management of change in their processes and culture are of the opinion that they must go beyond the narrow perspective of a simple change control - the formal process to ensure that any modification of elements within the organization is conducted in accordance with the specifications change - to a broader framework of change management. Change management is a broader process that allows for standardization of procedure and activities for all types of change, as well as monitoring those changes in a spirit of continuous improvement to minimize change-related impacts and improve efficiency.