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Institutional Ambidexterity: Leveraging Institutional Complexity in Practice

Institutional Logics in Action, Part B

Publication date: 1 January 2013


This paper develops a practice approach to institutional ambidexterity. In doing so, it first explores the ‘promise’ of institutional ambidexterity as a concept to address shortcomings with the treatment of complexity in institutional theory. However, we argue that this is an empty promise because ambidexterity remains an organizational level construct that neither connects to the institutional level, or to the practical actions and interactions within which individuals enact institutions. We therefore suggest a practice approach that we develop into a conceptual framework for fulfilling the promise of institutional ambidexterity. The second part of the paper outlines what a practice approach is and the variation in practice-based insights into institutional ambidexterity that we might expect in contexts of novel or routine institutional complexity. Finally, the paper concludes with a research agenda that highlights the potential of practice to extend institutional theory through new research approaches to well-established institutional theory questions, interests and established-understandings.



Jarzabkowski, P., Smets, M., Bednarek, R., Burke, G. and Spee, P. (2013), "Institutional Ambidexterity: Leveraging Institutional Complexity in Practice", Lounsbury, M. and Boxenbaum, E. (Ed.) Institutional Logics in Action, Part B (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 39 Part B), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 37-61.



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