A study of the performativity of the ambidextrous organizations theory: Neither lost in nor lost before translation

Boris Durisin, Gergana Todorova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Ambidextrous organizations succeed both in incremental and discontinuous innovation. However, there is little direct empirical evidence on how managers implement the principles of the "ambidextrous organizations" theory to dynamically align the structure and culture of ambidextrous organizations. Our study does not focus on analyzing the factors that give rise to organizational ambidexterity but focuses on analyzing whether the factors suggested by prior theorizing on "ambidextrous organizations" are implemented by managers in their daily practice as suggested by prior theorizing. Accordingly, this study does not investigate the traditionally conceptualized gap between academic theorizing and managerial practice since "ambidextrous organizations" theory can be characterized as rigorous and relevant. We investigate whether the "ambidextrous organizations" theory is implemented as suggested by prior theorizing and whether successful implementation is subject to managing in the way that scholars' prior theorizing suggests. Based on qualitative and quantitative data from two longitudinal case studies, we find that managers overlooked the process dimension in evaluating the required degree of ambidexterity. Furthermore, the organizational structure and culture for incremental innovation did not differ from the structure and culture for discontinuous innovation alongside the expected dimensions. Finally, the discontinuous innovation business unit had to be reintegrated to ensure sustained growth. During the reintegration processes, organizational capabilities mutated. We linked our findings on the processes and performativity of ambidextrous organizing to extant theories and developed the rationale for the observed novel phenomena of innovation myopia, second-order competency traps, and capability mutations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-75
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Product Innovation Management
StatePublished - Dec 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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