Exploration and exploitation: Do actual behaviors match individuals’ perceptions?

Abstract

Research on contextual ambidexterity assumes that an organization’s capacity to pursue simultaneously exploration and exploitation leverages on organizational solutions encouraging a balance between these two learning orientations. However, limited attention has as yet been devoted to the investigation of contextual ambidexterity at the individual level of analysis. Starting from this gap, this paper addresses the following research questions: How do individuals perceive the learning orientation required of them by their job? Do individuals’ behaviors match their perceived orientation? How can the matching/mismatching between perceptions and behaviors be explained? To address these issues a multiple case study of 16 managers and assistants in the R&D and Sales units of four medium enterprises located in Northeast Italy was carried out. Our findings show that perceptions and actual behaviors, as dimensions of the personal ambidexterity, are independent of each other and can determine a misalignment with the organizational ambidexterity. Accordingly, we propose a conceptual and operational framework, in which the interplay among individual factors such as prior work experiences and personal characteristics, through the mechanism of role stressors, mold both dimensions of personal ambidexterity

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Archivio Ricerca Ca'Foscari

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Last time updated on 15/06/2016

This paper was published in Archivio Ricerca Ca'Foscari.

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