Team ambidexterity: Resolving the exploration-exploitation paradox
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Purpose: Teams are inherently dealing with a tension to be adaptive and agile (i.e., explorative) but also coordinated and efficient (i.e., exploitative). While the tension between exploratory versus exploitative activities has been desribed in practice and in the literature, we lack a clear understanding of how this tension of team ambidexterity emerges as a process within teams and how it can be effectively resolved. Approach: Building on the concept of contextual ambidexterity, the current paper describes a process model of team ambidexterity. Furthermore, we are building on the literature about organisational and individual ambidexterity to develop an integrated multi-level framework. Results: First, our review of the literature shows that despite strong evidence for the ambidexterity-performance link on the organisational and individual level, research on the consequences of team ambidexterity is still nascent and does not unambigously provide evidence for increased team performance. Second, we argue that team ambidexterity can be realised in different forms (i.e., shared or configural) and that exploration and exploitation can theoretically interact across multiple level of analyses. Third, we are developing a dual process model including multiple transition and performance episodes and propose how work and team design factors theoretically impact on team ambidexterity as a process. Implications: Based on the proposed process model on team ambidexterity, we discuss avenues for future research and practical implications for managers and organisations in helping teams resolving the paradoxical tension between exploratory and exploitative activities.
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