مدیریت اکتشاف در مقابل مدیریت وضعیت دشوار بهره برداری در تیم پل زن شرکت های چندملیتی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|20035||2003||17 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||محاسبه نشده|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of World Business, Volume 38, Issue 2, May 2003, Pages 110–126
In this paper we explore the dilemma between exploitation and exploration in dispersed “bridge-teams,” i.e., teams in a firm working closely with an external partner. Based on the seminal insight by March (1991) and the learning model developed by Crossan, Lane, and White (1999), we set out to explore what type of learning is generated in teams and to what extent this learning is captured by the firm. We present four cases from two firms giving some variety in learning approaches. Based on this insight, we argue that characteristics of the activity being performed, the team itself and the firm are influential relating to what is learned and how much is shared. We argue that teams that are located at different locations and involving many nationalities have higher exposure to a variety of rich knowledge, but that the process of integrating this learning into the firm is more difficult due to distance leading to lower visibility and central managerial attention.
Organizations that structure their activities in teams face an interesting dilemma. Cross-functional teams are often more efficient than functional or divisional structures because effort is concentrated and focused (Park & Harris, 2000 and Shockley-Zalabak & Buffington Burmester, 2001). At the same time cross-functional teams constitute a unique “new” learning ground (Mohrman, Cohen, & Mohrman, 1995). Hence, teams are grounds for both exploiting “old” and exploring “new” knowledge, although a focus on one process often reduces focus on the other (March, 1991). An important challenge for many firms is to grasp the learning that takes place within the team, especially in situations when activities within the team take place outside the firm. Acknowledging, integrating and using individual and collective learning within teams are in our experiences often concerns for firms. In this paper we want to address the dilemma between a focus on task completion and innovative learning in teams and the learning that is obtained by the firm and ask: What, and under what conditions, can firms learn from their teams? The dilemma between exploration and exploitation (March, 1991) seems to be especially critical for organizations that rely on teams in three situations: First, when the team is a “bridge” to an important external alliance partner. Many firms today have found it useful to work with external alliance partners for a variety of reasons ( Contractor & Lorange, 1988 and Doz & Hamel, 1998). Often, firms find it useful to organize their external relations through a team, and this is what we refer to as a “bridge-team,” consisting of individuals from the focal firm, but set up for the purpose of realizing a strategy with an external partner. This team is the main meeting place between the two partners where the information transfer and knowledge creation materializes. Second, when the team is transnational and virtual in the sense that team members are located across time, space and cultures ( Mowshowitz, 1997). Almost by definition, teams working intimately with customers are at times dispersed, and need to communicate and organize their work over distance. Dispersed teams, interacting primarily via electronic networks, often develop “swift trust” that is fragile and temporal ( Jarvenpaa & Leidner, 1999), and as learning often is tacit ( Itami, 1987), these teams are lacking the contextual richness of face-to-face communication that seems to be important for the transfer of this kind of knowledge. Third, when this team involves knowledge creation. Many researchers have stated that alliances are important sources for information and knowledge transfer ( Badaracco, 1991, Contractor & Lorange, 1988, Doz & Hamel, 1998, Løwendahl, 2000 and March, 1991; Powell, Koput, & Smith-Doerr, 1996). Alliances solving new problems represent temporary innovative learning grounds where the firm is able to explore new areas together with an external partner offering complementary views. Often, a meeting place between alliance partners represents a unique learning arena where the team is allowed insight into routines, activities and resources of another firm. Access to partner information and joint learning can be critical for the firm to develop its competencies in directions demanded by customers ( Mowery, Oxley, & Silverman, 1996). Our focus in this paper is to explore the relevance and impact of the exploration vs. exploitation dilemma in knowledge creating, dispersed “bridging-teams.” Our main interest is to look at the short term and long term benefits of teams to an organization, not only focusing on the team as an efficient mechanism for getting things done, but also on “bridging teams” as a mechanism for knowledge creation contributing into the knowledge bases of the firm. Our contribution will be to look at intra- and inter-team conditions that either are related to exploitation or exploration to look for characteristics that may help us understand whether and how firms learn from teams.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Our main finding seems to be that even very “production-oriented” teams have opportunities for explorative learning, and very “innovative-oriented” teams need to worry about exploitation. Even if the task itself involves little exploration, issues concerning technology learning from and together with suppliers, learning about external relationships and the teamwork itself can be important resources to add to the resource stock of the organization. The problem, however, is that this learning rarely happens on its own, but must be guided by some organizational/team conditions. We thus suggest that these issues concern the communication patterns (formal and electronic patterns favor exploitation), transnationality/dispersion (transnational and dispersed teams favor exploitation), appraisal (individual performance based motivation favors exploitation) and learning appreciation (no appreciation of “new” knowledge or appreciation of explicit technical knowledge over tacit external and relational, the more exploitation). Organizations thus have a job to do thinking about not whether their teams explore or exploit, but which part and how much of the intuiting that takes place in any team is given the chance of being shared with others to develop into new collective understandings. Obviously, all intuiting cannot be shared, or the organization falls into a state of paralysis. In our experience, looking at these varied teams, much insight that seems to have been gained by individuals within the teams, on issues such as how to handle external relations and other team members, was often not shared. Hence, for organizations that organize themselves in “bridge-teams,” the major challenge does not seem to be to explore more, in the sense that task groups are established to “innovate.” Often, much relevant information and reflection exist, the major challenge is deciding what to do with it. Similarly, teams may learn more about current ways of working improving efficiency and exploitation. Identifying such opportunities, and spending time on making them clear instead of continuously developing teams searching for “new” information also create challenges. One suggestion of a way of dealing with it is offered by Nonaka and Takeuchi by their notion of the hypertext organization ( Nonaka, 1994 and Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995) suggesting that exploration and exploitation can take place at different times. They argue that an active team should mostly focus on exploitation, whereas individuals in interim periods should be given time to reflect on their learning. The business system is organized as a traditional hierarchy, whereas project teams are organized as task forces. Interaction between these two layers is recognized in the third layer, the knowledge base (stock of resources). This is an “ideal world” that was strived for in the Team Oil organization, designing a project team based on exploitation, and ideally allowing people the time to reflect and learn in between. Being unclear on what learning to encourage and how to organize the interim periods, combined with an increasing profitability pressure, made this solution difficult. Hence, a dual system, as suggested by Nonaka and Takeuchi depends on organizational structures and strategies that acknowledge learning and the conditions that foster it, and set aside resources for the collective reflection needed to go from the individual intuition level and to the collective integrating and institutionalizing. In this paper, we have pointed to some conditions of teams/organizations that seems to encourage exploration and exploration. It seems clear that teams learn and experience a lot that could be potentially important for their organization. To decide what this learning is and how important this could be, two different research approaches could be suggested depending on learning assumptions. We have based our article on the insight of Crossan et al. (1999), viewing learning as taking place in a sequential manner. To follow up this approach, a quantitative approach mapping out learning in teams, and measuring how much of learning reaching different stages (group and organizational) is one approach that could be used to test hypothesis based on the propositions developed in this paper. Another approach for further studies is to question the relevance of the sequential learning approach (Snowden, 2002). Is it so that exploration in teams needs to be institutionalized to change the strategic direction of the firm? Can all knowledge within a firm be institutionalized? Or can explorative learning embedded in individuals and groups influence the direction of a firm based on for example political processes? This approach would require a more fundamental approach to what learning is and how it is used within an organization. Whereas much of the literature has distinguished between “task” teams and “innovative teams,” our study shows that all teams have opportunities for both exploration and exploitation. Even the most production-oriented teams had many reflections on relational, customer and technical issues. Challenges arise as in the steps from individual exploration to making sense of the observations together with others. We have suggested some team and organizational conditions that seems to facilitate more interpreting/integrating of the individual observations and reflections within these teams. Further studies can establish their individual importance.