HRM in dynamic environments: Exploitative, exploratory, and ambidextrous HR architectures

Nina Hansen, Wolfgang Güttel, Juani Swart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (SciVal)
756 Downloads (Pure)


The current economic crisis has brought to the fore the need for firms to deal with ambiguity and complexity. Hence, firms need a specific balance between exploration and exploitation in order to keep pace with varying and changing environmental conditions. Hitherto, there is limited research that has examined the nexus of HR architectures, ambidexterity, and environmental dynamics. In this conceptual paper we ask: How do HR architectures serve as a means of balancing exploitative and exploratory learning in different dynamic environments? We explain how exploratory, exploitative, and ambidextrous HR architectures with their embedded HRM systems on the business unit level enable organizations to meet different environmental requirements. Thus, firms in which heterogeneous demands for flexibility and for innovation co-exist need to develop internally differentiated HR architectures. In particular, we elucidate how critical the organization’s ability is to connect different HRM systems to create an ambidextrous HR architecture to find an appropriate balance between exploration and exploitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)648-679
Number of pages32
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number4
Early online date20 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Ambidexterity
  • HR architecture
  • HRM systems
  • environmental dynamics
  • exploitation
  • exploration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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