Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Building ambidextrous organizations through intellectual capital: A proposal for a multilevel model

Susana Fernández-Pérez de la Lastra, Natalia García Carbonell, Fernando Martín Alcázar, Gonzalo Sánchez Gardey


Purpose: This paper proposes an alternative theoretical model to describe, from a multilevel
perspective, the way in which ambidexterity is built across different organizational levels,
through specific combinations of intellectual capital dimensions—human, social and
organizational capital.
Design/methodology: In this study, main arguments from intellectual capital, strategic human
resource management (SHRM) and multilevel literature are integrated. The intellectual capital
literature provides our model with the input (human capital), mechanisms (social capital) and
the infrastructure (organizational capital) required to create ambidextrous capabilities. The
multilevel perspective reveals the context in which ambidexterity is reached, and the SHRM
provide the model with the specific mechanisms (policies and practices) and conditions required
by ambidexterity (HRM flexibility and horizontal fit).
Findings: Although the literature widely recognizes ambidexterity as a potential source of
sustainable competitive advantage, the processes by which organizations complement
exploration and exploitation activities still remain unclear. This study sheds some light on the analysis of these complex dynamics, explaining how ambidextrous capabilities can arise from
different alternative combinations of human, social and organizational capital.
Originality/value: The paper expands the extant literature in the field, describing different
paths to achieving organizational ambidexterity. The configurational approach adopted adds
value to the proposed model, as it helps to explaining alternative synergistic mixes of
ambidextrous intellectual capital at different organizational levels.

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