Management Seminar - Associate Professor Miriam Wilhelm

Dean's Boardroom, Level 12 The Spot, 198 Berkeley Street


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Associate Professor Vikram Bhakoo

T: 03 8344 5320

PRESENTER: Associate Professor Miriam Wilhelm (University of Groningen, The Netherlands)
TOPIC: “The role of ambidexterity in managing buyer-supplier relationships: The Toyota case”

Most ambidexterity theories deal with managing exploration-exploitation tradeoffs among business units within firms or between alliance partners, but these theories remain yet to be extended to the buyer-supplier relationship level. Through an in-depth case study of the Toyota Motor Corporation we illustrate how buying firms can simultaneously achieve short-term and long-term benefits with their long-standing suppliers. Taking two inherently different activities as a starting point – mass production with its focus on exploitation and product development with its focus on exploration, we show that the deliberate use of ambiguity and explicitness can function as a countervailing mechanism against overemphasizing either exploration or exploitation. We also show that structural separation and structural integration are two organizational systems which can be used by buying firms to help suppliers realize ambidexterity in their operations. Finally, we argue that ‘requisite security’ can help to motivate suppliers to address the paradoxical tensions deliberately created by buying firms.

Miriam M. Wilhelm is an associate professor of international business and management at the Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Groningen, The Netherlands. She received her Ph.D. from the Freie Universitaet Berlin, Germany. Her research interests include buyer-supplier relations, sustainability in global supply chains, and organizational paradoxes. She has published in Organization Science, Journal of Operations Management, International Journal of Operations and Production Management, among others.

RSVPs are not necessary.