Ambidextrous idea generation – antecedents and outcomes
Gurtner & Reinhardt
- Idea generation may be the most important part of the innovation process because
it is the starting point and thus largely determines subsequent steps in the process
and final outcomes.
- However, ideas may be abundant and execution may be everything.
- Firms should actively generate both radical and incremental ideas to become
ambidextrous idea generators.
- Ambidexterity generally has a positive influence on innovation outcomes.
- Research questions:
o Is an ambidextrous idea-generation capability important enough to influence
o Which organizational antecedents foster ambidextrous idea generation?
- Innovation paradox: tensions between organizational characteristics, tools, or
behaviors that are not either/or dilemmas or trade-offs, but are instead synergistic
polarities that foster both incremental and radical innovation.
- A paradoxical mindset and the successful management of paradoxes may enable
ambidexterity, but not in all cases.
- Construal level theory (CLT): two types of construals exist:
o Low-level construals: more detailed, subordinate mental representations
that contain contextual and incidental aspects. Relatively specific. (Perceiving
o High-level construals: abstract, superordinate mental representations that
contain few but essential features (perceiving the forest).
- To be effective, innovation paradoxes must operate on the same construal level as
- Because idea generation is a specific, contextualized process, we expect to find
lower-level paradoxes, such as customer orientation and collaboration, influence
ambidextrous idea generation, while higher-level paradoxes, such as strategic
emphasis and innovation drivers, do not.
The front end of new product development and idea generation
- Front end of NPD: the period between when an opportunity is first considered and
when an idea is judged ready for development.
- Four stages in front end of NPD:
o Opportunity identification.
o Idea generation.
o Idea screening and evaluation.
o Concept development.
- Two options for actively and systematically generating ideas:
o What: seek to fill gaps in the current innovation portfolio or foster idea
generation in general.
o How: use formally planned activities or informal activities to generate ideas.