CHAPTER 7

MANAGING INNOVATION STREAMS IN AMBIDEXTROUS ORGANIZATIONS

FROM 1958 TO 1985, OTICON, A DANISH HEARING-aid company, dominated its market in the United States and Europe. The firm, under the leadership of Bengt Simonsen, Torben Nielsen (vice president of technology and production), and two other senior managers, had a tradition of great technical and manufacturing excellence. Its behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid was both technologically sophisticated and reasonably priced.

Oticon’s financial and market success were, however, increasingly coupled with a sense of arrogance and insularity within Oticon’s senior team and within its culture. Reflecting the power of the technologists at Oticon, the emphasis on new product development focused ...

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