Exploration and exploitation comprise one of the most well-known constructs in management and organization studies. However, there are three gaps in the extant literature on this topic. First, these studies focus mainly on large organizations and neglect small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and new ventures. Second, when adopting a longitudinal perspective, the research typically consists of cross-sectional studies that fail to capture evolution. Third, the research focuses more on the role of antecedents and mediators of strategies that pursue exploration and exploitation than on the practices that embody such goals. In this chapter, we address these three gaps and complement the previous literature with a study of the growth of an SME from start-up to sale over a 19-year period (1993–2011). We depict the evolution of exploration and exploitation over time through an analysis of management system practices that employs a longitudinal perspective. We analyze the different roles that management systems have played in various stages of the growth paths of the organization. We show that the role of management systems in shaping exploration and exploitation only loosely depends on the design of these systems. The same management systems can fulfill an explorative function in one stage and an exploitative function in another, depending on how such systems are used. Conversely, across stages, the role of management systems typically changes from exploration to exploitation.
Frigotto, M., Coller, G. and Collini, P. (2014), "Exploration and Exploitation from Start-up to Sale: A Longitudinal Analysis through Strategy and MCS Practices", Exploration and Exploitation in Early Stage Ventures and SMEs (Technology, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Competitive Strategy, Vol. 14), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 149-179. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-067X20140000014004Download as .RIS
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