Building an Ambidextrous Organisation

Advanced Institute of Management Research Paper No. 003

19 Pages Posted: 26 Nov 2008

See all articles by Julian Birkinshaw

Julian Birkinshaw

London Business School

Christina B. Gibson

University of California, Irvine - Organization & Strategy Area

Date Written: June 3, 2004

Abstract

For a firm to succeed over the long term it needs to master two diametrically opposed qualities, adaptability and alignment - an attribute that is sometimes referred to as ambidexterity. The trouble is, it's very difficult to strike a good balance between the two. Focus too much on alignment and the short-term results will look good, but changes in the industry will blindside you sooner or later. Equally, too much attention to the adaptability side of the equation means building tomorrow's business at the expense of today's.

The concept of organisational ambidexterity - which represents the optimal balance between adaptability and alignment - has been around for many years, but the evidence suggests that most companies have failed to apply it, and remain as one-handed as ever. In this paper, we report on a major study that sought to shed new light on the phenomenon. We developed a new way of conceptualising ambidexterity, and we polled more than 4000 people in ten multinational companies, with a view to understanding how a business can become truly ambidextrous.

Keywords: Ambidextrous

Suggested Citation

Birkinshaw, Julian and Gibson, Christina B., Building an Ambidextrous Organisation (June 3, 2004). Advanced Institute of Management Research Paper No. 003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1306922 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1306922

Julian Birkinshaw (Contact Author)

London Business School ( email )

Sussex Place
Regent's Park
London, London NW1 4SA
United Kingdom

Christina B. Gibson

University of California, Irvine - Organization & Strategy Area ( email )

Irvine, CA
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
1,845
Abstract Views
5,711
rank
8,205
PlumX Metrics