Strategic ambidexterity and innovation in Chinese multinational vs. indIgenous firms: The role of managerial capability

Jie Wu*, Geoffrey Wood, Xiaoyun Chen, Martin Meyer, Zhiyang Liu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101652
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Business Review
Issue number6
Early online date20 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support provided by National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 71728003) and University of Macau MYRG (Grant Number: 2016-00207-FBA, Grant Number: 2018-00171-FBA) for this research.


  • Strategic ambidexterity
  • Exploration vs. exploitation
  • Managerial capability
  • Product innovation
  • Emerging multinational enterprises (EMNEs)
  • China


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