Pursuing “flexible commitment” as strategic ambidexterity

Yiannis Kouropalatis (Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Paul Hughes (The Business School, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Robert E. Morgan (Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Publication date: 14 September 2012



Firms face high velocity conditions today that render product market strategies increasingly temporal. Strategic flexibility is critical for enabling rapid adaptation to a changing environment. At the same time, managerial commitment to product‐market strategy signifies the extent to which a manager comprehends and supports the strategy and reflects a necessary sense of ownership for any chosen product‐market strategy. The purpose of this paper, then, is to examine strategically ambidextrous firms through the twin lenses of flexibility and commitment to determine whether performance benefits accrue from such characteristics.


While traditional research streams examine strategic flexibility and commitment to product‐market strategy as opposing ends of a continuum, this paper adopts a broader perspective and examines strategic flexibility and commitment to product‐market strategy as elements of strategically ambidextrous firms. Cluster analysis is used to identify groups of high and low strategically ambidextrous firms.


Strategically ambidextrous firms exhibit commitment to product‐market strategy, which enables the effective realisation of selected strategies through focusing managerial attention and firm resources, and strategic flexibility, which enables adaptation of the planned product‐market strategy based on feedback received, or abandonment followed by new strategic choices and impetus. The paper reveals that firms with high strategic ambidexterity exhibit significantly greater levels of strategic resources, decentralisation, product‐market strategy process effectiveness, and implementation effectiveness compared with low ambidexterity firms. Thus, strategic ambidexterity is revealed to endow significant performance benefits.


This paper addresses the need to examine ambidexterity as “flexible commitment”.



Kouropalatis, Y., Hughes, P. and Morgan, R. (2012), "Pursuing “flexible commitment” as strategic ambidexterity", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 46 No. 10, pp. 1389-1417. https://doi.org/10.1108/03090561211248099

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