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The role of innovation narratives in accomplishing organizational ambidexterity

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Charles Harvey, Dr Benjamin Golant, Professor John Sillince



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Sage Publications Ltd, 2021.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Persistent tensions arising from the exploration-exploitation paradox threaten the accomplishment of organizational ambidexterity. Structural, contextual and sequential solutions designed to alleviate these tensions dominate the ambidexterity literature. None of these adequately explains how top executives implement tension alleviating managerial initiatives or how they respond in real time to tension-induced organizational perturbations. In this paper, through the analysis of Top Management Team (TMT) speeches at Procter & Gamble over a 15-year period, we show how the construction and communication of four innovation narratives - contextualizing, mutualizing, dramatizing and focalizing - reduced tensions and enhanced organizational ambidexterity. We demonstrate the importance of TMT reflexivity in devising and communicating performative narratives, illustrate the polyphonic model of narrative strategizing, and present a cyclical model suggesting that the accomplishment of organizational ambidexterity is an on-going dynamic process.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Maclean M, Harvey C, Golant B, Sillince J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Strategic Organization

Year: 2021

Volume: 19

Issue: 4

Pages: 693-721

Print publication date: 01/11/2021

Online publication date: 21/01/2020

Acceptance date: 06/12/2019

Date deposited: 06/12/2019

ISSN (print): 1476-1270

ISSN (electronic): 1741-315X

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd


DOI: 10.1177/1476127019897234


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