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Ambidexterity and the concept of fit in strategic management – which better predicts success?

  • We introduce a strategic management perspective into the ambidexterity discussion and show that ambidexterity is a much better predictor of organizational performance than traditional strategic management concepts, specifically the concept of fit. Our main contribution lies in the combination of ambidexterity- and strategic management research where we highlight commonalities as well as differences and show that the two research streams lead to opposing findings. While ambidexterity claims that organizations need to build up capabilities for both exploitative and explorative behavior to be successful, strategic management literature, and especially the concept of fit, rather argues that organizations should focus themselves. Only if they manage to create a fit between their strategic orientation and an aligned behavior will they outperform their competition. We address this contradiction with our study and show that the explanatory power of the concept of fit on organizational performance has diminished. Rather, organizations are successful if they show exploitative as well as explorative behavior. Thus we lay the ground for further research that combines ambidexterity and strategic management.

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Document Type:Working Paper
Author:Stephan Stubner, W. Henning Blarr
Chairs and Professorships:Chair of Strategic Management and Digital Entrepreneurship
Year of Completion:2010
HHL Working Paper 89. Leipzig: HHL – Leipzig Graduate School of Management, 2010