Organizational ambidexterity and competitive advantage: The role of strategic agility in the exploration-exploitation paradox

Thomas Clauss, Sascha Kraus*, Friedrich Lukas Kallinger, Peter M. Bican, Alexander Brem, Norbert Kailer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Attaining competitive advantage is especially crucial for innovative firms. Due to increased competition, firms employ various types of innovation activities to position themselves against their competitors. Ambidexterity and strategic agility have been found to strengthen this position. Whereas scholars analyzed strategic agility's and ambidexterity's impact on organizational performance, ambidexterity's impact on the competitive advantage of organizations remains largely unexplored. Tensions between exploration and exploitation within an ambidextrous strategy make it difficult to reap benefits in establishing competitive advantage. Contrary, strategic agility centers on organization's capacities to quickly respond to shifting demand, hence, increasing its competitive advantage. Through a mixed-method approach, comprising of a literature review and quantitative analyses of 150 German mid-sized firms in the engineering industry, it is demonstrated how ambidexterity, exploration and exploitation, in conjunction with strategic agility, affect the competitive advantage of firms. In order to sustain, firms should either favor an exploration strategy of innovation processes to come up with radically new knowledge, products and services, or combine an exploitation strategy with strategic agility. A strategy of sole exploitation is not beneficial towards increased competitive advantage, while an ambidextrous strategy seems to even negatively influence the competitive advantage of a firm.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Innovation & Knowledge
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2. Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Ambidexterity
  • Competitive advantage
  • Firm innovation
  • Strategic agility
  • Strategy


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