"The Performance Consequences of New Forms of Ambidexterity in the Context of Interorganizational Innovation"



Beyond internal learning, firms increasingly explore and exploit knowledge outside their boundaries in interorganizational innovation. To achieve new forms of ambidexterity, firms may combine their internal learning processes, e.g., exploitation, with the corresponding external processes, e.g., exploration, and vice-versa. We therefore challenge the common assumption that intraorganizational and interorganizational learning can be examined separately. We combine data from a multi-informant survey of 175 industrial firms with patent and financial data to show that the interactions of intraorganizational and interorganizational learning have a stronger positive effect on a firm’s innovation performance than simultaneous internal exploration and internal exploitation. While the positive effects of all types of ambidexterity are limited under relatively stable conditions, they are particularly pronounced at high levels of industry technological dynamism. Our results have major implications for ambidexterity research, and they provide new insights into firms’ possibilities to profit from the trend towards opening up innovation processes.


Ulrich Lichtenthaler is an assistant professor of Technology and Innovation Management at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, Vallendar, Germany, where he also received his Ph.D. In summer 2008, he was a visiting scholar at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, US. His current research interests include open innovation, absorptive capacity, dynamic capabilities, and strategic alliances. He has published two books and multiple articles (including in-press articles) in leading international journals including the Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science, Organization Studies, Strategic Organization, Journal of Management Studies, Research Policy, Journal of Product Innovation Management, Journal of Business Venturing, and California Management Review. He serves as an ad-hoc reviewer for numerous journals. Moreover, he gained work experience in various industrial firms and consultancies, and he has consulted multiple firms in the area of technology and innovation management and corporate strategy.

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Carolien Heintjes