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date: 06 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the structures and processes of learning organizations that are capable of engaging in both exploitative and explorative learning. Drawing on structuration theory and paradox thinking, it argues that a focus on the dynamic interplay between structure and agency, and the interdependence between opposite forces in organizations are crucial for understanding ambidextrous learning organizations. The analysis distinguishes three types of ambidextrous learning organizations, labeled as “partitional,” “contextual,” and “alliance,” each with its distinct structural configurations, learning spaces, and agents. While the existing literature emphasizes “balancing” exploitative and explorative learning, this chapter argues that “counter-balancing” the drift towards exploitative learning poses a major challenge. The three types share the common characteristic of allowing “free” spaces within the constraints of structures that enable the key learning agents to counter-balance this drift and sustain ambidextrous learning.

Keywords: ambidexterity, ambidextrous learning, exploitation, exploration, learning organizations, organizational learning, structure, agency, paradox theory

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