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The state of ambidexterity research: a data mining approach

Saurav Snehvrat (Department of Strategic Management, Indian Institute of Management Ranchi, Ranchi, India)
Amit Kumar (Newcastle Business School, Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia)
Rahul Kumar (Department of Decision Sciences, Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar, India)
Swarup Dutta (Department of Strategic Management, Indian Institute of Management Ranchi, Ranchi, India)

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1934-8835

Article publication date: 14 May 2018



The academic discipline of ambidexterity is recognized as an established field within strategic management and organization theory. Extant works in the field recognize the recent burgeoning academic emphasis on ambidexterity and suggest either an impending focus or a decline of the field. Although there have been attempts to review the field of ambidexterity, most of these reviews have not followed a systematic and scientific approach for extricating the key themes emerging within. The purpose of the study is to inductively and systematically capture the main elements constituting the current boundary of the field.


To achieve the stated purpose, this study uses data/text mining to analyze abstracts of scholarly ambidexterity papers published over the past two decades (1997-2016) in academic journals. Using text-mining, lexical analysis is performed to compute the frequency distribution of words. The frequently occurring words are studied in detail and their association with ambidexterity is also studied by means of co-relation. This analysis (used for generation of first order themes) is then complemented by a manual analysis of each first order theme to come up with trends and sub-themes lying within.


The analysis extracts eight distinct themes that indicate the current boundary of ambidexterity research. The findings highlight the potential areas for future academic attention such as networks, business models, leadership, dynamic capability and their inter-linkages with the field of ambidexterity. Overall, the field of ambidexterity is receiving heightened academic interest coupled with a dynamic proliferation across a host of related management fields. Apart from the required future consolidation, the field also needs new insights to enhance its explanatory power.

Research limitations/implications

This study analyzes abstracts of 504 works on ambidexterity (in the last two decades) to inductively indicate the current boundaries of the field using a data/text mining approach. Papers that do not explicitly mention ambidexterity in their abstracts, title or keywords are not included in the analysis.

Practical implications

The insights of the analysis will not only help researchers but also offer practitioners a good view point about the myriad of paths (not restricted to contextual, structural and temporal) through which ambidexterity can be promoted within and at the organization level.


The three-fold contribution of this study is a systematic and scientific approach adopted to define the current boundary of the field of ambidexterity, followed by an exploration of a set of eight distinct themes and finally the identification of ongoing debates, research gaps and future research questions in light of the analysis performed.



Snehvrat, S., Kumar, A., Kumar, R. and Dutta, S. (2018), "The state of ambidexterity research: a data mining approach", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 343-367.



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