Unlearning for Ambidexterity: The Case of High Velocity Environments

30 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2014 Last revised: 31 Dec 2014

Date Written: December 16, 2013


We use the knowledge-based view of firms to reason that organizational unlearning — intentional discarding of processes, routines, strategies, structures, and knowledge by organizations — has important implications on firm’s adaptive and learning abilities in emerging economies. In particular, we posit that due to both increased globalization and liberalization, firms in emerging markets face an increasingly more dynamic and competitive environment — something these firms were not used to before. In such environment, ambidexterity becomes crucial for firm survival and performance. Yet, these firms are characterized by long-standing and entrenched business practices and strategies, which do not facilitate the adaptability demanded by the dynamism and competitiveness in the environment. We thus reason that firms in emerging markets need to unlearn these entrenched practices, knowledge, and strategies before they can learn and inculcate ambidexterity. In sum, the paper presents organizational unlearning as an important antecedent for ambidexterity in emerging markets and relates dynamism and competitiveness in the environment with the focal constructs of organizational unlearning and ambidexterity.

Keywords: organizational unlearning, ambidexterity, emerging markets, firm environment

Suggested Citation

Shukla, Prashant, Unlearning for Ambidexterity: The Case of High Velocity Environments (December 16, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2395396 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2395396

Prashant Shukla (Contact Author)

Accenture ( email )


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