Embracing Paradox: TMT paradoxical processes as a steppingstone between TMT reflexivity and organizational ambidexterity

  • Pepijn van Neerijnen (Creator)
  • Michiel P. Tempelaar (University of Amsterdam) (Creator)
  • Vareska van de Vrande (Creator)



Top management teams are crucial in managing the ambidexterity paradox. This endeavour, however, generates cognitive conflicts. Surprisingly, this particular topic has received little attention within the ambidexterity literature. We aim to address this lacuna and, in doing so, extend the paradox literature and the emerging socio-cognitive perspective on ambidexterity. In our hypothesized mediation model, top management teams embrace the exploration-exploitation paradox through reflexivity, then overcome this paradox through paradoxical cognitive processing – the capacity to cognitively differentiate and integrate exploration and exploitation – which finally fosters ambidexterity. We test and find support for our hypotheses using a sample of 335 Dutch and German small and medium enterprises. We end with a discussion on how socio-cognitive factors influence the management of the ambidexterity paradox. In doing so, we refine scholarly understanding of motivating and enabling factors that allow top management teams to deal with the paradoxical tensions surrounding ambidexterity.
Date made available2022

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