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Leaving the beaten path together

June 7, 2023

Things established industrial companies can learn from technology start-ups

One Way Straßenschild
© Nick Tiemeyer auf

In the current issue of the journal OrganisationsEntwicklung, Ann-Christine Schulz, Senior Researcher and Project Leader at the Institute for Digital Transformation and Strategy (IDS) at FHWien der WKW, together with Jasmin Séra (formerly of IDS) and Anne Maria Busch (FH Wiener Neustadt), reflects on how domestic companies can strategically manage the digital transformation. This is done by fostering new technological competencies and making the core business more efficient at the same time. Through this “organizational ambidextry” (“two-handedness” of an organization), established companies can successfully develop innovations – supported by young start-ups and off the beaten path.

With blinders on to the Path Dependency

The decisions of the past shape the decisions of the present – and thus the future of a company. Established organizations often repeat what has already worked. This creates a standardized learning process whose positive feedbacks act like self-imposed blinders. With limited foresight, the path is mapped out into a severely restricted room for maneuver – the so-called “lock-in”.

Start-up instead of lock-in

While companies in their Path Dependency follow the well-known tracks, innovative start-ups take advantage of significantly greater room for maneuver. Their corporate culture is characterized by permanent learning and constant change. By working with these young companies, established organizations can break their Path Dependency. Because without their “lock-in” blinkers, companies discover new room for maneuver to master current challenges such as digital transformation or sustainable innovations.

Using both hands to achieve success

Organizations can meet these challenges by fostering new technological competencies while making core business more efficient. This “ambidextry” or “two-handedness” is being researched at the Institute for Digital Transformation and Strategy (IDS) at FHWien der WKW in the project “Organizational Ambidextry in SMEs” – funded by the City of Vienna (MA23). After all, if companies develop innovations off the beaten path and at the same time use existing resources, they can ensure their success in the long term.

The complete article appeared as a first publication in OrganisationsEntwicklung 2/23, ( A reading sample in German can be found here (© Handelsblatt Media Group).