In pursuit of ambidexterity: Managerial reactions to innovation–efficiency tensions

Angeliki Papachroni*, Loizos Heracleous, Sotirios Paroutis

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    80 Citations (Scopus)


    Whereas tensions arising from the pursuit of ambidexterity have been documented, how these are interpreted and managed by actors themselves remains largely unexplored. Based on in-depth case research in a large Scandinavian-based telecommunications organization pursuing ambidexterity, we identify a path-dependent process of tension interpretation and tension management at different levels of the organization. Our findings suggest that, in the context of an ambidextrous strategy, actors are actively involved in managing arising tensions based on their differing interpretations of these tensions (where ambidextrous demands are seen as complementary, conflicting or interrelated). We find that these interpretations are influenced by actors’ strategic orientation and organizational level. Our study extends understanding of the pursuit of ambidexterity in practice, offering a pluralist, path-dependent perspective of how actors perceive and deal with ambidexterity tensions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1791-1822
    Number of pages32
    JournalHuman Relations
    Issue number9
    Early online date7 Jun 2016
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016


    • case study
    • exploitation
    • exploration
    • organizational tensions
    • tension management

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
    • Social Sciences(all)
    • Strategy and Management
    • Management of Technology and Innovation


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