Edited by Laura Anna Costanzo and Robert Bradley MacKay
Chapter 10: Improvisational Bricolage: A Practice-based Approach to Strategy and Foresight
Miguel Pina e Cunha, João Vieira Da Cunha and Stewart R. Clegg Introduction The tension between exploration and exploitation of knowledge is one of the most discussed topics in the strategic and change management literatures (Gersick 1991; Romanelli and Tushman 1994; Eisenhardt and Tabrizi 1995; Tushman and O’Reilly 1996). Too much of either is regarded as a bad thing: too much exploration and the risk is that there is too little that can be exploited routinely, as routines are projected into an uncertain and indeterminate future; too much exploitation and the risk is that as the knowledge assets wear out they will not be replenished in a present that is rapidly fading into a nonrenewable past. In this chapter we contribute to this discussion by explaining how improvisational bricolage allows organizations to integrate these two processes and by discussing an approach to foresight that supports the capability to engage in exploitative exploration. The dilemma inherent to the relation between exploration and exploitation can be succinctly stated as follows. Exploitation is necessary because it allows organizations to reap beneﬁts from present knowledge and past strategy. Exploration is necessary because it allows organizations to construct new knowledge, create new markets, and build new sources of competitiveness. Some strategy literature views these two approaches as opposites, stating that one can only be pursued at the cost of the other (see Sastry 1997), while some argues that both exploration and exploitation are necessary conditions for strategic viability in fast-changing markets (Levinthal 1997)...
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