In this study, we challenge the conventional understanding of ambidexterity as an unquestionable contribution to better performance. We combine the concept of ambidexterity and the notion of managerial capability to explore different effects of ambidexterity on innovation performance in the context of emerging markets. We investigate this ambidexterity-innovation effect, and how this effect is moderated by managerial capability, on a sample of 74 Chinese multinational enterprises (MNEs) vs. 60 indigenous firms that are both in high technology industries. We find that, surprisingly, ambidexterity has a negative effect on the innovation performance of indigenous firms, although this effect is less so in the case of Chinese MNEs. More importantly, strong managerial capability increases the positive effect of ambidexterity on the innovation performance of Chinese MNEs, but not so for indigenous firms. We discuss the implications of these findings on research on ambidexterity and product innovation.
- Strategic ambidexterity
- Exploration vs. exploitation
- Managerial capability
- Product innovation
- Emerging multinational enterprises (EMNEs)