Does It All Add Up? Disaggregating the Micro-foundations of Organizational Ambidexterity Through a Paradox Lens

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From prior research we know that organizational ambidexterity leads to sustained performance outcomes, driven by micro-level behavioural attributes of individual managers with cognitive properties for balancing exploration and exploitation (Jansen et al., 2009; O’Reilly & Tushman, 2008; Raisch et al., 2009; Raisch & Birkinshaw, 2008). Yet a complication comes about because the existing literature on micro-foundations of organizational ambidexterity assumes that the generalized notions of behaviour and cognition can be aggregated to the macro-level of theories such as dynamic capabilities (Foss & Kirkegaard, 2020) and absorptive capacity (Distel, 2019). This complication is of concern because the individual-level dynamics of managers interpreting how to balance exploration and exploitation will not necessarily emerge as organizational ambidexterity through simple aggregation dynamics (Pertusa-Ortega et al., 2020; Tarba et al., 2020). Rather than a fixed, deterministic, self-reinforcing, and functional arrangement, scholars have found that organizational ambidexterity is a much more complex and dynamic phenomenon (Harris & Wood, 2020; Papachroni & Heracleous, 2020; Zimmermann et al., 2020). The course of action to address this concern entails reconceptualizing the micro-foundations of organizational ambidexterity by viewing organizational ambidexterity from the perspective of paradox theory (Raisch et al., 2018). This paper enhances existing theory by conceptualizing different constitutive mechanisms between the core constructs of micro-level drivers and micro-foundations of ambidexterity across organizational levels. The paper provides the foundation for studying organizational ambidexterity as dynamic pathways evolving over time.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2023
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Event39th EGOS Colloquium 2023: Organizing for the Good Life: Between Legacy and Imagination - University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy
Duration: 6 Jul 20238 Jul 2023
Conference number: 39


Conference39th EGOS Colloquium 2023
LocationUniversity of Cagliari
Internet address

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