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Can you balance the gaps? Ambidexterity in service firms

Christina Öberg (Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA) (Ratio Institute, Stockholm, Sweden)
Beata Kollberg (Lejonfastigheter AB, Linköping, Sweden)

Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Insights

ISSN: 2514-9792

Article publication date: 19 February 2020

Issue publication date: 19 July 2021




Ambidexterity refers to the ability to balance contradictory items and has been extensively described in relation to technological advancement in large-sized manufacturing firms. Few studies on hospitality and tourism firms have described the balancing of innovative developments, often focusing on the operational level of firms. Ambidexterity could though be understood also in dimensions of customer/market development and collaborative interaction. This paper describes and discusses ambidexterity in the dimensions of technological advancement, customer/market development and collaborative interaction in service firms to inspire this debate and bridge the gap between strategy and the service field.


A case study describing a service firm's 25-year development functions as the empirical source of inspiration to understand how service firms also in tourism and hospitality sectors would work with strategies and their developments related to technology, customers and collaboration. The case study is analysed using an activity-based time schedule to capture dimensions of ambidexterity and how they are linked to one another.


The findings indicate how the service firm balanced exploitation and exploration over time, rather than allowing such activities to occur simultaneously and in parallel. Generally, the firm only managed to explore in one dimension at the time.


The paper broadens the lens on ambidexterity to include collaboration and customer involvement and the link among the various dimensions of ambidexterity. It also discusses how ambidexterity in these dimensions may be handled by service firms so as to inspire strategic developments among tourism and hospitality firms.



Öberg, C. and Kollberg, B. (2021), "Can you balance the gaps? Ambidexterity in service firms", Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Insights, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 245-262.



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