Sustainability-oriented technology exploration: managerial values, ambidextrous design, and separation drift

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Sustainability is a key societal challenge and has become an opportunity for innovation. While start-ups are prone to enter such new territories, established companies are more hesitant to leave current trajectories and embrace uncertainty linked to sustainability-oriented exploration. We present a case of a conventional high-tech firm of an owner-manager whose strong values of universalism led him to initialise a sustainability-oriented diversification by exploring renewable energy technologies. Our longitudinal study uncovers how changes in ambidextrous organisational design and represented managerial values ultimately resulted in failed exploration. Our contribution is threefold: First, we link individual-level managerial values of universalism with organisational-level phenomena of sustainability-oriented exploration and diversification. Second, we contribute to bridging hitherto mostly separate bodies of literature on sustainability-oriented innovation and ambidexterity to better understand how conventional firms can deploy their technological capabilities for sustainability. Third, we conceptualise the "separation drift"as fading organisational separation resulting in exploration failure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2240004
JournalInternational Journal of Innovation Management
Issue number5
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 01.06.2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s).

    Research areas

  • Sustainability sciences, Management & Economics
  • ambidextrous organisational design, diversification strategy, exploration and exploitation, green technologies, managerial values, modes of balance, radical innovation, renewable energy technologies, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), Sustainability-oriented innovation (SOI)