Session 178

Does the Past Predict Future Exploratory or Exploitative Innovative Behaviour?

Track C

Date: Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Time: 14:30 – 15:45


Room: Meeting Room 6

Session Chair:
Steven Floyd, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Title: Do Incumbents Really Fail to Innovate? The Role of Exploratory Search and Structural Contexts


  • Alexander Zimmermann, University of St. Gallen
  • Sebastian Raisch, University of Geneva

Abstract: Incumbents experience organizational rigidities in innovation. Prior studies advise these firms to create a structural context outside the mainstream organization that encompasses all exploratory activities. Conversely, we argue that incumbents following this singular design approach become trapped in specific types of exploratory search, while failing to pursue others. Based on an inductive study, we develop a contingency theory perspective of exploratory search and structural contexts. We find that successful incumbents assigned each type of exploratory activity to a distinct structural context. This selective design process prevented incumbents from becoming trapped in monolithic structures – allowing them to retain their ability to innovate.

Title: Organizational Control and Strategic Growth Initiatives - A Contingency Perspective


  • Markus Kreutzer, EBS University of Business and Law
  • Christoph Lechner, University of St. Gallen
  • Laura B. Cardinal, University of South Carolina

Abstract: This study focuses on formal and informal control modes used by organizations to manage their growth initiatives. Drawing on the literature on growth, organizational control, and contingency theory, we develop and empirically test a set of hypotheses aimed at explaining how different types of growth initiatives are controlled to achieve superior performance. Survey data collected from 201 corporations in six industries serve to test the hypotheses. Results of moderated regression analysis highlight the importance of adopting the control mode to the specific type of initiative. An initiative's degree of internal and external risk as well as exploration are found to moderate the relationships between formal and informal control and initiative performance.

Title: Some Animals are More Equal Than Others: What Makes Strategic Initiatives Survive the Firm's Internal Selection Environment?


  • Marcus Matthias Keupp, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
  • Steven Floyd, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Oliver Gassmann, University of St. Gallen

Abstract: In this paper we use an intraorganisational ecology perspective to build a theory of the antecedents of initiative selection. Thus, we wish to explain what it is about initiatives that facilitates positive internal selection. We hypothesise several initiative characteristics that may more or less favourably interact with the firm's internal selection environment and test these using data on 1,116 initiatives. Our findings show that initiative survival is positively influenced by the sponsoring unit's geographical closeness to corporate headquarters and by the past success record of the sponsoring manager responsible for the initiative. In contrast, initiatives that entail project complexity when implemented and initiatives that propose exploratory rather than exploitative innovation are less likely to survive than others. Past success is also found to positively condition the negative influence of initiative complexity and exploratory content on survival. Finally, the theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.

Title: The Impact of Organizational Characteristics on Learning Mechanisms for Strategic Innovation


  • Liselore Berghman, Free University Amsterdam
  • Paul Matthyssens, University of Antwerp
  • Koen Vandenbempt, University of Antwerp

Abstract: This paper focuses on how companies can improve their innovation capacity when trying to break through dominant patterns of doing business. We measure how the relationship between deliberate learning mechanisms and innovation capacity is moderated by internal organization variables such as culture and structure. Our study shows the importance of culture, structure and cross-functional information dissemination in the process of stimulating strategic innovation. The analysis of moderating effects on the relationship between deliberate learning mechanisms and strategic innovation capacity enables us to contribute to the debate in the strategy literature on the role of the internal organization for strengthening the innovation capacity. The partial mediation model further illustrates the rather complicated and non-linear nature of the process of stimulating deliberately the strategic innovation capacity.

All Sessions in Track C...

Mon: 12:45 – 14:00
Session 173: Proactive Strategies to Manage an Uncertain World
Session 181: Sustaining Innovation
Mon: 15:45 – 17:00
Session 174: The Effect of Environmental Conditions on Organizational Reconfiguration
Session 183: Managing Collective Emotions under Strategic Uncertainty
Mon: 17:15 – 18:30
Session 175: The Influence of Uncertainty on Investment Behaviour of Firms
Session 185: New Forms and Governance Modes for Coping with Uncertainty
Tue: 10:00 – 11:15
Session 176: The Influence of External Uncertainty on Capability Development
Tue: 11:30 – 12:45
Session 177: How to Make the Right Decisions During Uncertain Times?
Tue: 14:30 – 15:45
Session 178: Does the Past Predict Future Exploratory or Exploitative Innovative Behaviour?
Wed: 10:00 – 11:15
Session 179: Environmental Dynamism and Firm Behavior
Session 182: Cognitive Processs under Uncertainty
Wed: 11:30 – 12:45
Session 180: The Dynamics of Top Management Team in Achieving Long Term Performance
Session 184: Value Creation Under Uncertainty

Strategic Management Society

Washington DC