Handbook of Research on Strategy Process
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Handbook of Research on Strategy Process

Edited by Pietro Mazzola and Franz W. Kellermanns

The Handbook of Research on Strategy Process reveals the current state of the art of strategy process research as a whole as well as emerging research initiatives. It also discusses managerial and organizational factors affecting strategy implementation.
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Chapter 11: Banking on Ambidexterity: A Longitudinal Study of Ambidexterity, Volatility and Performance

Amir Sasson and Mario Minoja


Amir Sasson and Mario Minoja While exploration and exploitation are necessary for enhancing an organization’s performance, the simultaneous pursuit of exploration and exploitation has long been considered a major organizational challenge (see further: March, 1991; Tushman and O’Reilly, 1996). Research has identified a variety of organizational arrangements, including structural, task and temporal separations, and an organizational context, that enable organizations to exploit current resources and capabilities and simultaneously explore new territories (Benner and Tushman, 2003; Gibson and Birkinshaw, 2004; Tushman and O’Reilly, 1996). Some researchers, however, doubt whether ambidexterity, the simultaneous pursuit of exploration and exploitation activities, enhances performance, arguing that organizations should primarily concentrate on their resources, management routines and knowledge flows in only one direction so as to avoid running the risk of being mediocre at both (for further discussion see: Lubatkin et al., 2006; Raisch and Birkinshaw, 2008). The uncertainty surrounding the actual value of ambidexterity stems from both theoretical and empirical issues. A theory that explicates the emergence of ambidexterity is absent (Alder et al., 1999; Gibson and Birkinshaw, 2004). While the key research question is ‘[H]ow does a business unit become ambidextrous?’ (Gibson and Birkinshaw, 2004: 212), previous studies have advanced conditions, such as temporal, task and structure segregations and empowerment initiatives (see: Gibson and Birkinshaw, 2004), under which ambidexterity may materialize. There is a need to further specify the factors that directly impact ambidexterity in the first place prior to examining its actual value as well as consider mediators that may affect...

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