Induced and autonomous strategy processes in exploration-exploitation transition

Sonja Lätti

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph

Abstract

Positioned in organizational ambidexterity literature, this dissertation investigates how induced and autonomous strategy processes evolve over time in exploration-exploitation transition in a large organization with an established core business. Adopting a process research approach, the empirical part of the dissertation presents a longitudinal case study of people flow solutions development at KONE Corporation over a twelve-year time frame from 2004 to 2015. This time frame is investigated focusing on people flow solutions development activities transitioning from exploratory R&D activities to exploitative business development efforts, while considering the changes that took place in the strategic context of KONE. A historical account is presented including the key phases of the solutions development activities in R&D and business development. This dissertation found that the structural operationalization of the exploration-exploitation transition was realized by establishing a focus on exploitation in the core organization's business unit with a parallel exploration unit in a specific new development area remaining in the R&D organization. It was also revealed that autonomous activities occurred despite the initiatives being in line with the prevailing strategy of the organization. Autonomous activities were also found to continue after the exploration-exploitation transition had been realized in the operational business. Based on the findings, a model of induced and autonomous strategy processes in exploration-exploitation transition is proposed. The model presents induced and autonomous strategy processes evolving through temporal cycles through the phases before, during, and after the exploration-exploitation transition. The transition as establishing a parallel focus on exploration and exploitation is presented to occur through the processes of setting the structural and strategic contexts in the induced strategy process as well as through championing in the autonomous strategy process. Specific mechanisms in the induced and autonomous strategy processes were identified based on the empirical phenomena in the case. The mechanisms identified as occurring in the induced strategy process at the top management level included retroactive rationalizing, direct top management strategic intent, and loose coupling. The mechanisms identified as occurring in the autonomous strategy process included loose coupling, network building, and local identity building. This dissertation thus contributes to the view of ambidexterity as a dynamic phenomenon that unfolds over time, answering the calls for more empirical research on processes related to the development of structural ambidexterity over time as well as on expanding the strategic perspective on ambidexterity to understand longer strategy formation processes.
Translated title of the contributionInduced and autonomous strategy processes in exploration-exploitation transition
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Lindblom, Arto, Supervising Professor
  • Luoma, Jukka, Thesis Advisor
Publisher
Print ISBNs978-952-60-3948-0
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-3949-7
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)

Keywords

  • ambidexterity
  • strategy process
  • exploration
  • exploitation
  • transition

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