Rethinking contextual ambidexterity through parallel structures
This paper offers an alternative perspective on achieving contextual ambidexterity in organizations. Building on a collaborative research project within Renault's Innovation Department, we identified that the corporate Fab Lab acted as a parallel structure in support of contextual ambidexterity. These findings provide three main contributions. First, we locate a source of contextual ambidexterity outside of the traditional business unit. In doing so, we challenge the dominant focus on managers, and show that, despite non‐supportive contexts, employees can demonstrate ambidextrous skills through individual autonomous initiatives and bootlegging behaviors. Second, we delineate four key functions and related features – spatial, technical, methodological, and cultural – of parallel structures that nurture contextual ambidexterity. Finally, we recommend that the facilitation of a parallel structure should combine both flexibility and stability.
Publisher URL: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/radm.12402