Making it happen: how managerial actions enable project-based ambidexterity

Neil Turner, Juani Swart, Harvey Maylor, Elena Antonacopoulou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (SciVal)
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The literature on ambidexterity is dominated by theoretical development and does not fully explain how ambidexterity is enacted. There is limited focus on the managerial actions in day-to-day operations
that enable this important phenomenon. We posit that projects offer an ideal context to investigate the actions that enable ambidexterity since they necessarily combine planning and control (exploitation) with
some degree of novelty (exploration). Using extensive data from eight project-based case studies in the Information Technology services sector, we ask the research question, How is project-based ambidexterity
enabled? Within this context, we identify two different types of project-based ambidexterity (distributed and point ambidexterity) and five managerial actions (buffering, gap-filling, integration, role-expansion and tonesetting)
that enable ambidexterity. We investigate the underlying resource utilisation in terms of intellectual capital (namely, human, social and project capital) and show the complexity of their interplay in achieving
ambidexterity. Finally, we develop a model that brings these concepts together and identify how the ‘integration’ function is central to, and interwoven with, the other actions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-222
Number of pages24
JournalManagement Learning
Issue number2
Early online date15 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016


  • Case study, intellectual capital, managerial actions, project-based ambidexterity


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