To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

From paradoxes to trade-offs: metaroutine enabled multi level ambidexterity at Tata Motors, India

Swarup Kumar Dutta (Department of Strategic Management, Indian Institute of Management Ranchi, Ranchi, India)
Saurav Snehvrat (Department of Strategic Management, Xavier Labor Relations Institute, Jamshedpur, India)

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1934-8835

Article publication date: 17 June 2021




The purpose of this paper is to explore the multi-level ambidexterity challenges through the metaroutine lens. Further, while confronting the ambidexterity challenges, it is found that what is paradox at one level can be understood as tradeoffs at another level. This study uses an in-depth multi-level case study of Tata Motors, an Indian automotive giant highlighting the ambidexterity dynamics across strategic, business unit and functional levels to demonstrate that paradoxes at the strategic level are converted to manageable tradeoffs at the business unit/ operational level. Also, metaroutine-enabled ambidexterity explains a possible way through which multi-level ambidexterity can be promoted and managed within organizations.


This study uses a case-based methodology (Eisenhardt, 1989) similar to the approach of Adler et al. (1999). The field research consisted of in-depth interviews, which focus on gathering information from the key involved members in the field, thus enabling us to understand how multi-level ambidexterity is promoted within Tata Motors. A semi-structured interview guide was used to collect data for this study.


The metaroutine lens offers an alternative route to explain the multi-level ambidexterity dynamics at Tata Motors. The ambidexterity questions at different levels in Tata Motors seem to be a mixture of paradoxes and tradeoffs. However, a key trend emerges. At the strategic and business unit level, the firm wanted to exploit their existing products and explore new customer segments. At the product level, the strategic and NPI core team wanted to best combine the customer centric explorations with exploitations resulting in cost savings. The ambidexterity questions at these two levels seem to be paradoxes. However, as the authors analyze the functional domains, it appears that each individual domain was working under increased constraints. Hence, the ambidexterity questions at the domain level seem to be a tradeoff based on the constraints faced by individual functional domains.


This study presents an in-depth multi-level case study of an Indian automotive giant, Tata Motors. The authors present the role of metaroutines in shaping the ambidexterity issues during the development of passenger vehicles. This study builds on the seminal work of Adler et al., 1999, and extends the discussion to the framing of the ambidexterity question as a paradox and/or a tradeoff. The core argument of this paper is that balancing opposite polarities in business models is basically a paradoxical issue in the exploitation/ exploration relationship.



Dutta, S.K. and Snehvrat, S. (2021), "From paradoxes to trade-offs: metaroutine enabled multi level ambidexterity at Tata Motors, India", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles