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In pursuit of the ambidextrous graduate: potentiality between exploration and exploitation

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter


Publication date2012
Host publicationManaging ‘Human Resources’ by Exploiting and Exploring People’s Potentials
EditorsMikael Holmqvist, André Spicer
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-78190-506-7
ISBN (Print)978-1-78190-505-0
Original languageEnglish

Publication series

NameResearch in the Sociology of Organizations
ISSN (Print)0733-558X


This paper investigates March’s (1991, 1993) concepts of ‘exploration’ and ‘exploitation’ in relation to the graduate labour market. We focus on its use of the imagery of potentiality as key criterion of employability and investigate its dimensions through March’s conceptual framework. We argue that the balancing act of exploring and exploiting one’s potential becomes one of the main coordinates through which contemporary organisations attempt to configure the profile of the future employee. An ambidextrous ideal employee is configured who is trapped between the continuous demands of routinised production, execution and implementation, and those of equally sustained experimentation, self-expression, and creativity. We conclude by arguing that this ideal can be interpreted as another example of an unsustainable utopian image of work in the context of contemporary management. The theme of potentiality illustrates the dangers of this utopia in a specific way. On the one hand, it plays the role of an inescapable framework guiding the individual’s sense of self, whilst on the other hand, it predicates the self based upon an image of limitless potential.

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