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Reconsidering Ambidexterity at the Individual Level: A Social Network Perspective

Project-Based Organizing and Strategic Management

ISBN: 978-1-78052-192-3, eISBN: 978-1-78052-193-0

Publication date: 12 October 2011


This chapter addresses ambidexterity at the individual level. Ambidexterity is defined as a company's ability to guarantee both short- and long-term successes by simultaneously exploring new market or new technological paths and improving existing products. We demonstrate that this ability can result from the evolution of social networks linking individuals involved in idea development. We used a longitudinal approach that combined case study and social network structure analysis of the R&D center of a semiconductor company. Six cases have been selected according to the level of disruption of the first idea generated and the end result in terms of exploration and exploitation. For these six cases, data have been gathered from monthly project reviews, press articles and listings of patents. Seventy-four interviews with key actors in the idea-development process have also been conducted.We mapped the relationships between actors who have contributed to the development of the idea through creative thinking and/or helped it to be accepted both internally and externally over three-year windows. Consequently, two network pictures are drawn for each case, and network structure indicators are computed for these two representations. We created a description of network evolution and the consequences of this process on the level of disruption of the ideas involved. This research demonstrated that different network structures and types of connections are relied upon depending on the explorative or exploitative objectives of teams of individuals.


Simon, F. and Tellier, A. (2011), "Reconsidering Ambidexterity at the Individual Level: A Social Network Perspective", Cattani, G., Ferriani, S., Frederiksen, L. and Täube, F. (Ed.) Project-Based Organizing and Strategic Management (Advances in Strategic Management, Vol. 28), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 389-424.



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