Organizational Ambidexterity: IBM and Emerging Business Opportunities

44 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2009 Last revised: 29 Sep 2009

See all articles by Charles O'Reilly

Charles O'Reilly

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Michael Tushman

Harvard University - Organizational Behavior Unit

J. Bruce Harreld

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: May 1, 2009

Abstract

The empirical evidence is that only a tiny fraction of organizations live to age 40. Why this should be is a puzzle, since when firms are doing well they have all the resources (financial, physical, and intellectual) to continue to be successful. Yet the evidence is that most organizations fail. Drawing on recent advances in evolutionary theory, this paper illustrates how multi-level selection processes help organizations adapt in the face of technological and market changes. We show how this process, along with the concepts of organizational ambidexterity and dynamic capabilities, may help organizations survive over long time periods. We illustrate how one deliberate and repeatable version of this process enabled IBM to generate more than $15 billion in growth between 2000 and 2005.

Keywords: leadership, organizational change, change management, growth strategy, organizational design

Suggested Citation

O'Reilly, Charles and Tushman, Michael and Harreld, J. Bruce, Organizational Ambidexterity: IBM and Emerging Business Opportunities (May 1, 2009). Stanford University Graduate School of Business Research Paper No. 2025, Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University Working Paper No. 53, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1418194 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1418194

Charles O'Reilly (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Michael Tushman

Harvard University - Organizational Behavior Unit ( email )

Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States

J. Bruce Harreld

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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