In Praise of Ambiguity: A Commentary on Exaptation

3 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2011

Date Written: Winter 2007


When changes in the context of a technology prompt users to alter the way they employ it, the potential for novelty opens up. This phenomenon, known as ‘exaptation,’ is explored in a simulation by Villani et al. The authors show that exaptation, or innovation through reuse, is more likely to take place when a number of contextual characteristics are present: ambiguity, noise and room for misinterpretation. The results provide strong support to the sociological literature on ambiguity and multivocality. The article also incorporates material artifacts in the methodology of economics.

Keywords: innovation, exaptation, ambiguity

Suggested Citation

Beunza, Daniel, In Praise of Ambiguity: A Commentary on Exaptation (Winter 2007). European Management Review, Vol. 4, Issue 3, pp. 157-159, 2007. Available at SSRN: or

Daniel Beunza (Contact Author)

Cass Business School ( email )

United Kingdom

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