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Achieving contextual ambidexterity in R&D organizations: a management control system approach

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Research on how managers control R&D activities has tended to focus on the performance measurement systems used to exploit existing knowledge and capabilities. This focus has been at the expense of how broader forms of management control could be used to enable R&D contextual ambidexterity, the capacity to attain appropriate levels of exploitation and exploration behaviors in the same R&D organizational unit. In this paper, we develop a conceptual framework for understanding how different types of control system, guided by different R&D strategic goals, can be used to induce and balance both exploitation and exploration. We illustrate the elements of this framework and their relations using data from biotechnology firms, and then discuss how the framework provides a basis to empirically examine a number of important control relationships and phenomena.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University, 500 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6C 1W6. ;, Email:

Publication date: June 1, 2011

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