IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Continuously Hanging by a Thread: Managing Contextually Ambidextrous Organizations


  • Wolfgang H. Güttel
  • Stefan W.Konlechner


Ambidexterity can be defined as an organization’s ability to simultaneously reconcile exploration and exploitation. In this paper, we focus on contextual ambidexterity, i.e. ambidexterity that derives from the creation of a context that allows employees to pursue exploratory and exploitative activities. Building on empirical case study data from contextually ambidextrous organizations, we describe their idiosyncratic characteristics and we explain how their mode of knowledge transmission between exploratory and exploitative domains, based on fluid project structures, serves to generate competitive advantage. Furthermore, we analyze the role of balancing and orchestrating capabilities for enabling the firm to perform concurrently in exploration and exploitation.

Suggested Citation

  • Wolfgang H. Güttel & Stefan W.Konlechner, 2009. "Continuously Hanging by a Thread: Managing Contextually Ambidextrous Organizations," Schmalenbach Business Review (sbr), LMU Munich School of Management, vol. 61(2), pages 149-171, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:sbr:abstra:v:61:y:2009:i:2:p:149-171

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Filippini, Roberto & Güttel, Wolfgang H. & Nosella, Anna, 2012. "Ambidexterity and the evolution of knowledge management initiatives," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 317-324.
    2. Stefanie Gschwantner & Martin R. W. Hiebl, 2016. "Management control systems and organizational ambidexterity," Journal of Management Control: Zeitschrift für Planung und Unternehmenssteuerung, Springer, vol. 27(4), pages 371-404, November.
    3. Yazan Emnawer AL Haraisa, 2016. "The Impact of Human Resource Management Practices on Innovation Performance: An Empirical Study on Jordanian Private Hospitals," International Journal of Academic Research in Accounting, Finance and Management Sciences, Human Resource Management Academic Research Society, International Journal of Academic Research in Accounting, Finance and Management Sciences, vol. 6(4), pages 185-195, October.
    4. Mattes, Jannika, 2014. "Formalisation and flexibilisation in organisations – Dynamic and selective approaches in corporate innovation processes," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 475-486.

    More about this item


    Ambidexterity; Change; Dynamic Capabilities; Exploration/Exploitation; Strategic Contradictions;

    JEL classification:

    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sbr:abstra:v:61:y:2009:i:2:p:149-171. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (sbr). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.