5 Reasons Hanging by a Thread is my new favourite paper!

The paper Hanging by a Thread: Managing ... By Guttel & Konlechner, 2009 is my new favourite paper, here's why.

  1. It's empirical, it's a case study, and the approach seems aligned with Dr. Kathleen Eisenhardt's (1989) method.
  2. Not just about ambidexterity, this is a study of contextual ambidexterity - that's the best kind in my book, at least - because it arises from behaviour, which is influenced by the conditions created by managers.
  3. There's an ongoing relationship between the firm and researchers, starting in 1999 when they did some strategy work with top management. They returned in 2005, 2006, and 2008 to gather data, but this is not a longitudinal study.
  4. Although it's impossible to avoid the word "exploit" in ambidexterity research, Guttel & Konlechner frame the domains of business units in terms of "service" and "research". Like most heavily-regulated industries (eg. financial services, pharmaceutical) customers of service and operational domains are risk-averse and want proven solutions, with the benefits of modern tools and techniques.
  5. It's a good read, not difficult to follow, nor riddled with obscure academic language. If English is not the first language of the authors, then it is an advantage, because they write more clearly than most (of us) native English speakers. Maybe it's me projecting, but I enjoyed a sense of dry Germanic (?) humour in places.

"Contextual ambidexterity is much like hanging by a thread, since one learning mode could crowd out the other, leading to a collapse of the ambidextrous business model."

Published: December 30, 2022
By: Russ Lewis

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5 Reasons Hanging by a Thread is my new favourite paper!