Structural and contextual approaches to ambidexterity: a meta-analysis of organizational and environmental contingencies

Sebastian P.L. Fourné, Nina Rosenbusch, Mariano L.M. Heyden, Justin J.P. Jansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


This meta-analysis examines the conditions under which structural and contextual approaches help balance exploration and exploitation. Drawing on heterogeneous samples of prior ambidexterity studies, we apply moderated meta-analytic regression methods to 33,492 organizations sampled in 114 primary studies from 1991 to 2017 to test a contingency model. Our findings suggest that structural separation helps firms of all sizes to balance exploration and exploitation, and that structural separation is more conducive for balancing exploration and exploitation in high technology environments. Also, avoiding a structural separation approach benefits service firms. As research on ambidexterity enters the maturity stage we discuss the implications for future theory development, methodology, and for managers interested in developing ambidextrous organizations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)564-576
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Management Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


  • Ambidexterity
  • Exploitation
  • Exploration
  • Manufacturing and Service Industries
  • Meta-analysis
  • Organizational Size
  • Technology Intensity

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