"We are Always After that Balance" - Managing Innovation in the New Digital Media Industry

Sabine Hotho, Katherine Champion


The pressure to innovate is growing as technology cycles change more rapidly. Organisations need to balance exploration and exploitation effectively if they are to heed the innovation imperative. Organisational ambidexterity is proposed as a means to achieve such balance with structural or contextual ambidexterity as possible choices. Yet how organisations become ambidextrous is an as yet underresearched area, and different industry sectors may pose different innovation challenges. Using the case study method, this paper examines how a computer games company responds to an industry-specific innovation challenge and how it endeavours to balance exploration and exploitation. The findings suggest that ambidexterity is difficult to achieve, and is fraught with organisational tensions which might eventually jeopardise the innovation potential of a company. The paper suggests that more qualitative research is needed to further our understanding of innovation challenges, innovation management and organisational ambidexterity.


New Digital Media Industry; ambidexterity; innovation management; creative organisation; exploration and exploitation

Full Text:

PDF [en]


AMABILE, T.M., Conti, R., Coon, H., Lazenby J., Herron M. (1996). Assessing the work environment for creativity. Academy of Management Journal, 39(5), 1154-1184.

ANDRIOPOULOS, C., Lowe, A. (2000). Enhancing organisational creativity: the process of perpetual challenging. Management Decision, 38(10), 734-742.

ANTCLIFF, V., Saudry, R., Stuart, M. (2005). Freelance worker networks in audio-visual industries. Lancashire Business School Working Papers. University of Central Lancashire, Preston.

BANKS, M., Calvey, D., Owen, J., Russell, D, W. (2002). Where the art is: defining and managing creativity in new media SMEs. Creativity and Innovation Management, 11, 251-260.

BARON, A. (2001), Preface. In: Swart, J., Kinnie, N., Purcell, J. People and Performance in Knowledge-Intensive Firms. CIPD, London.

BECK, U., Bonss, W., Lau, C. (2003). The Theory of Reflexive Modernization: Problematic, Hypotheses and Research Programme. Theory, Culture & Society, 20, 1-33.

BENNER, M. J., Tushman, M. L. (2003). Exploitation, exploration and process management: the productivity dilemma revisited. Academy of Management Review, 28(2), 238-256.

BILTON, C., Cummings, S. (2010) Creative Strategy: Reconnecting Business and Innovation. John Wiley and Sons, Chichester.

BILTON, C., Leary, R. (2002). What can managers do for creativity? Brokering creativity in the creative industries. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 8(1), 49-64.

BILTON, C. (2007). Management and Creativity: from Creative Industries to Creative Management. Blackwell, London.

BIRKINSHAW, C. B., Gibson, J. (2004). 'Executive briefing: The ambidextrous organisation' AIM Stage 3. http://www.aimresearch.org/publications/ambidexterousrpt.pdf [Accessed 06/06/2008]

BODEN, M., ed. (1994). Dimensions of Creativity. MIT Press/Bradford Books, Cambridge, MA, London.

BOLIANO, E. S. (2008). A Framework for Analysis of Ambidexterity and Performance in Small-to-Medium-Sized Firms. DLSU Business & Economics Review, 17(1), 99-110.

BROWN, S. L., Eisenhardt, K. M. (1997). The art of continuous change: Linking complexity theory and time-paced evolution in relentlessly shifting organizations. Administrative Science Quarterly, 42, 1-34.

BRYMAN, A. (2004). Social Research Methods. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

CADIN, L., Guérin, F. (2006). 'What can we learn from the video games industry? European Management Journal. 24(4), 248-255.

CADIN, L., Guérin, F., deFillipi, R. (2006). HRM practices in the video game industry: industry or country contingent? European Management Journal, 24(4), 288-298.

CHASTON, I. (2008). Small creative industry firms: a development dilemma? Management Decision, 46(6), 819-831.

CHRISTOPHERSON, S. (2004). The divergent worlds of new media: how policy shapes work in the creative economy. Review of Policy Research, 21(4), 543-558.

COFFEY, A., Atkinson, P. (1996). Making Sense of Qualitative Data: Complementary Research Strategies. Sage Publications, London.

COLLINS, J.C., Porras, J.I. (1997). Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. Harper Business, New York.

CRESWELL, J. W., Plano Clark, V. (2007). Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research. Sage Publications, London.

CUMMINGS, A., Oldham, G. (1997). Enhancing creativity: managing work contexts for the high potential employee. California Management Review, 40(1), 22-38.

CUMMINGS, L. (1965). Organizational climates for creativity. Academy of Management Journal, 8(3), 220-227.

DAVID, M., Sutton, C. (2004). Social Research: The Basics. Sage Publications, London.

DEBONO, E. (1993). Serious Creativity: Using the Power of Lateral Thinking to Create New Ideas, Harper Collins Business, London.

DEPEUTER, G., Dyer-Witheford, N. (2009). A playful multitude? Mobilising and counter-mobilising immaterial game labour. fibreculture, 5. Multitudes, creative organisation and the precarious condition of new media labour. http://journal.fibreculture.org/iisue5/depeuter_ dyerwitheford-print.html [Accessed 7/07/2009].

DENZIN, N. K., Lincoln, Y. S. (2008). Strategies of Qualitative Inquiry (3rd ed). Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.

EDWARDS, T., Delbridge, R., Munday, M. (2005). Understanding innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises: a process manifest. Technovation, 25, 1119-1127.

EHIN, C. (2008). Unmanaging knowledge workers. Journal of Intellectual Capital, 9(30), 337-350.

EISENHARDT, K. M., Martin, J. A. (2000). Dynamic capabilities: what are they? Strategic Management Journal, 21(10/11), 1105-1121.

EKOS Consultants (2009). Internationalisation in Digital Media: A Briefing Paper. Registered Office, Glasgow.

EKVALL, G. (1997). Organisational conditions and levels of organisational creativity. Creativity and Innovation Management, 6, 195-205.

GIBSON, C. B., Birkinshaw, J. (2004). The antecedents, consequences, and mediating role of organizational ambidexterity. Academy of Management Journal, 47(2), 209-226.

GOSHAL, S., Bartlett, C. A. (1997). The Individualized Corporation: A Fundamentally New Approach to Management. Harper Paperback, London.

GRABHER, G. (2004). Learning in projects, remembering in networks? Communality, sociality, and connectivity in project ecologies. European Union and Regional Studies, 2, 103-123.

GUETTEL, W. H., Konlechner, S. W. (2009). Continually hanging by a thread: Contextually ambidextrous organizations. Schmalenbach Business Review, 149-171.

GUETTEL, W. H.,,Konlechner, S. W. (2007). Dynamic capabilities and competence obsolescence: empirical data from research-intensive firms. Proceedings of OLKC 2007 - "Learning Fusion ", 357-374.

HE, Z, L.., Wong, P., K. (2004). Exploration vs exploitation: an empirical test of the ambidexterity hypothesis. Organization Science, 15(4), 418-494.

HOOGSTRATEN, T. (2005) Difference in growth between successful, unsuccessful and non-innovating SMEs, 2nd Twente Student Conference on IT, Enschede 21 January, 2005.

KIM, W. C., Mauborgne, R. (2004). Value innovation: the strategic logic of high growth. Harvard Business Review, July-August 2004, 1-11.

ISAKSEN, S., Tidd, J. (2006). Meeting the Innovation Challenge: Leadership for Transformation and Growth. John Wiley and Sons, Chichester.

JANSEN, J., Van Den Bosch, F. A. J., Volberda, H. W. (2006). Exploratory Innovation, Exploitative Innovation, and Performance: Effects of Organizational Antecedents and Environmental Moderators (14, 2006, 08). ERIM Report Series Reference No. ERS-2006-038-STR.

KAARBO, J., Beasley, R. (1999). A practical guide to the comparative case study method in political psychology. Political Psychology, 20, 369-391.

LITTLE, S., Ray, T., eds (2005). Managing Knowledge. 2 nd ed., Sage, London.

LIU, W. (2006). Knowledge exploitation, knowledge exploration, and competency trap. Knowledge & Process Management, 13(2), 144-161.

MARCH, J.G. (1991). Exploration and exploitation in organisational learning. Organization Science, 2(1), 71-87.

MUMFORD, M.D. (2000). Managing creative people: strategies and tactics for innovation. Human Resource Management Review, 10(3), 313-351.

MUMFORD, M.D., Gustafson, S.B. (1998). Creativity syndrome: integration, application and innovation. Psychological Bulletin, 103, 27-43.

MUMFORD, M.D., Scott, G.M., Gaddis, B., Strange, J.M. (2002) Leading creative people: orchestrating expertise and relationships. The Leadership Quarterly, 13, 705-750.

NESTA (2008a). Unlocking the potential of innovative firms. Policy Paper, NESTA Policy and Research Unit, London.

NESTA (2008b). Raise the Game: The Competitiveness of the UK's Games Development Sector and the Impact of Governmental Support in Other Countries. Games Investor Consulting (December 2008).

NESTA (2009). It's Time to Play: A Survey on the Impact of a Tax Credit for Cultural Video Games in the UK Development Sector. Games Investor Consulting Limited (August 2009).

NONAKA, I., Toyama, R. Konno, N. (2000). SECI, Ba and leadership: a unified model of dynamic knowledge creation. Long Range Planning, 33(1), 5-34.

NOOTEBOOM, B. (2000) Learning and Innovation in Organisations and Economie. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

MILLER, D. (1993). The architecture of simplicity. Academy of Management Review, 18(1), 116-138.

OLDHAM, G.R. and Cummings, A. (1996). Employee creativity: personal and contextual factors at work. Academy of Management Journal, 39(30), 607-634.

O'REILLY, C., Tushman, M. (2007). Ambidexterity as a dynamic capability: resolving the innovator's dilemma. Stanford University Graduate School of Business Research Paper No. 1963, 1-60.

PANDEY, S., Sharma, R. R. K. (2009). Organizational factors for exploration and exploitation. Journal of Technology Management Innovation, 4(1), 48-58.

PATTON, E., Appelbaum, S.H. (2003). The case for case studies in management research. Management Research News, 26(5), 60-71.

PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS (2008). Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2008-2012.

RANDLE, K., Rainnie, A. (2007). Managing creativity, maintaining control: a study in pharmaceutical research. Human Resource Management Journal, 7(2), 32-46.

QUINN, J. B., Baruch, J. J., Stein, K. A. (1997). The Innovation Explosion. Free Press, New York.

RAISCH, S. (2008). Balanced structures: designing organizations for profitable growth. Long Range Planning, 41, 483-508.

RAISCH, S., Birkinshaw, J., Probst, G., Tushman, M.L. (2009). Organizational ambidexterity: balancing exploitation and exploration for sustained performance. Organization Science, 20(40), 685-695.

SCOTTISH ENTERPRISE TAYSIDE (2010). Research Interviews. Transcribed by authors. Dundee.

STENMARK, D. (2000). The role of intrinsic motivation when managing creative work. Proceedings of ICMIT 2000. IEEE Press, Singapore.

SIGGELKOW, N. (2001). Change in the presence of fit: the rise, the fall and the renaissance of Liz Claiborne. Academy of Management Journal, 44, 838-657.

STRAUSS, A. (1987). Qualitative Analysis for Social Scientists. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

SYDOW, J., Staber, U. (2002). The institutional embeddedness of project networks: The case of content production in German television. Regional Studies, 36(3), 215-227.

TEECE, D.J., Pisano, G., Shuen, A. (1997). Dynamic capabilities and strategic management. Strategic Management Journal, 18, 509-533.

TEECE, D. J. (2006). Explicating dynamic capabilities: The nature and microfoundations of (sustainable) enterprise performance. Haas School of Business Working Paper, Dec. 22.

TUSHMAN, M.L., O'Reilly, C.A. (1996). The ambidextrous organization: managing evolutionary and revolutionary change. California Management Review, 38(4), 1-23.

UTTERBACK, J. M. (1994). Mastering the Dynamics of Innovation: How Companies Can Seize Opportunities in the Face of Technological Change. Harvard University Press, Boston.

YIN, R.K. (1984). Case Study Research - Design and Methods. Sage Publications, Beverley Hills.

YIN, R, K. (2009). Case Study Research - Design and Methods. Sage Publications, Beverley Hills.

ZACKARIASSON, P., Wilson, T.L. (2007). Competition and competitiveness in the video game industry. Paper presented to the American Society for Competitiveness Conference 2007.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0718-27242010000300003

Copyright (c)

2017 © Universidad Alberto Hurtado - Facultad de Economía y Negocios. 
Erasmo Escala 1835 - Santiago, Chile.
Economic Analysis Review | Observatorio Económico | Gestión y Tendencias 

Journal Supported by Chimera Innova Group