Article | Academy of Management Review

Reflections on the 2013 Decade Award: 'Exploitation, Exploration, and Process Management: The Productivity Dilemma Revisited' Ten Years Later

by Mary Benner and Michael Tushman

Abstract

This paper reflects on Benner and Tushman (2003): "Exploitation, Exploration, and Process Management: The Productivity Dilemma Revisited." Our paper received the Academy of Management Review's best paper award in 2003 and the decade award in 2013. We consider the context within which the paper was written with particular reference to the theoretical, empirical, and managerial problems salient at that time and comment on the likely reasons the paper has had a sustained influence in the field. Looking forward, we first ask whether the paradoxes and inconsistencies we discussed are still fundamental organizational challenges, and then go further to consider ways the domain of innovation itself has changed. We suggest that because of fundamental shifts in communication and information processing costs and the increasing modularity of products and services, the nature and locus of innovation has changed over the past decade. These secular trends have profound implications for our theories of innovation and organizations. Our extant theory and research is increasingly uncoupled from the phenomena. We would be well served to revisit the nature, locus, and basic processes of innovation.

Keywords: Organizations; Innovation and Invention;

Citation:

Benner, Mary, and Michael Tushman. "Reflections on the 2013 Decade Award: 'Exploitation, Exploration, and Process Management: The Productivity Dilemma Revisited' Ten Years Later." Academy of Management Review 40, no. 4 (October 2015): 497–514.