Abstract: The burgeoning discussion in open and collaborative innovation has revitalised firms' interest in purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge. This questions our understanding of 'explorative innovation' and the role of technologies in explorative innovation search. This paper aims to enhance our conceptual understanding of 'explorative' innovation strategies. On the basis of a systematic literature review, we synthesise the existing literature on explorative innovation. We identify six groups of conceptualisations that reflect the diverse perspective towards explorative innovation. These groups differ in terms of the level of analysis, the dominating theoretical perspectives, the underlying dimensions describing how firms explore and search, and the relevance of external and internal conditioning factors. Overall, we found that the role of technology in explorative search varies, and has slightly changed over time. We propose a multidimensional perspective towards exploration. We highlight that technologies may serve a range of functions in the firm's business model.