The Micro-Dynamics of Intraorganizational and Individual Behavior and Their Role in Organizational Ambidexterity Boundaries

Peter Stokes, Neil Moore, Danny Moss, Martin Mathews, Simon Smith, Yipeng Liu

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    32 Citations (Scopus)


    Organizational ambidexterity has emerged as a valuable contemporary lens on organizational design and action, examining the dynamic relationships between exploitative (extant) and explorative (evolving) resources within organizational contexts and environments. This article analyzes the literature pertaining to ambidexterity and underlines a number of recurrent preoccupations including definition of the nature, characteristics, and normative boundaries of organizational ambidexterity; a predilection toward considering interfirm/unit comparisons of large-scale corporate organizations; and a concentration on the significance of the managerialistic role of the senior management team's disposition and action-orientations. While a few calls have been made for a focus on the micro-aspects, predominant attention has remained on the macro-aspects of organizational ambidexterity.

    The aim of the article, therefore, is to conduct a complementary study that considers the boundaries and transitions between exploitative and explorative modes at the intraorganizational, individual micro-behavioral level. To facilitate this, the article surfaces and underscores the paradigmatic modernistic characterization of large areas of the current organizational ambidexterity literature and the implications of this. Moreover, it explores alternative potentially useful critical paradigms that assist in providing tools with which to examine the “micro.” The research conducts an ethnographic-style study of a quasi-public training and development organization to illustrate the above background contexts and the micro-interface and boundary of explorative and exploitative modes of organizational ambidexterity in the intraorganizational situation. Within this, the study points up the significance of the role of sense-making in operational micro-moment individual and small-group situations, and their vital influence in ultimately underpinning, and contributing to, macro-organizational ambidextrous contexts.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)s63–s86
    JournalHuman Resource Management
    Issue numberS1
    Early online date9 Mar 2015
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


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