Unravelling the Process Dimension of Ambidexterity: Reinterpreting a Case of Collaborative Digital Servitization

Paul C. van Fenema, Dominik Mahr

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


Shifts in technologies and economic structures impel organizations to innovate within their boundaries and with external partners. We consider ambidexterity theory a useful perspective to understand how organizations succeed in innovation through exploitation and exploration. While most ambidexterity research focuses on resources, this chapter takes a process view. Theorizing about processes that capture the dynamics of organizational functioning is useful in large-scale, long-term innovation. In these projects, multiple organizations contribute complementary competences and simultaneously engage in closed (not in the public domain) and/or open innovation projects (involving companies, government and academia). The case of collaborative digital services along the maritime value chain provides our empirical setting. We focus on participating organizations by identifying processes that enable their exploration and exploitation activities and, more specifically, how interorganizational exploration can be dynamically embedded in their organizations. The findings reveal six strategic organizational processes that forge a connection between exploitation and exploration, and encourage a shift from a strategic view on resources towards a view that considers processes enacted by resources. The specific processes show how exploration with external partners relates to exploitation inside an organization, thereby moving beyond traditional research distinctions into short-term exploitation versus long-term exploration, and closed versus open innovation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Yin-Yang Military : Ambidextrous Perspectives on Change in Military Organizations
EditorsJacqueline Heeren-Bogers, René Moelker, Esmeralda Kleinreesink, Jan Van der Meulen, Joseph Soeters, Robert Beeres
Number of pages18
Place of PublicationCham
Publication date2021
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-52432-6
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-52433-3
Publication statusPublished - 2021
MoE publication typeA3 Book chapter


  • 512 Business and Management

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoS: Competition economics and service strategy - Service and customer-oriented management


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