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Organizational Ambidexterity: Two modes of learning

Special issue call for papers from The Learning Organization

Guest editors: Professor Alf Steinar Sætre, Dr. Nhien Nguyen

March’s (1991) article, “Exploration and exploitation in organizational learning”—in a special issue of Organization Science on organizational learning, guest edited by Michael Cohen—opened the field of balancing exploration-exploitation (ambidexterity) in established organizations.  In so doing, this article firmly established learning as a key element of exploration and exploitation, but in recent research learning in exploration-exploitation has been understudied.  This special issue calls for more research to understand how organization learning can help achieve and sustain ambidexterity over time.

Ambidexterity, i.e. exploring and exploiting simultaneously (Tushman & O’Reilly, 1996), is an important mechanism for organizations to maintain both their core business and innovation activities. Although the theoretical underpinnings of organizational ambidexterity include organizational learning (O’Reilly & Tushman, 2013), this area is understudied, and we seek new knowledge on modes of learning in ambidextrous structures and processes.

There is not much research connecting the concept of ambidexterity to the learning organization, which is the gap that this special issue seeks to bridge. We would like to invite papers that explicitly connects ambidexterity topics to organizational learning and/or learning organizations for this special issue.  All submitted papers should follow TLO’s author guidelines, which can be found here.


The submission deadline for full papers is 15 June 2018. The Special Issue is scheduled to appear in The Learning Organization in 2019.


March, J.G. (1991), "Exploration and exploitation in organizational learning". Organization Science, Vol. 2  No. 1, pp. 71-87.
O'Reilly, C.A. and Tushman, M.L. (2013), "Organizational ambidexterity: Past, present, and future". The Academy of Management Perspectives, Vol. 27  No. 4, pp. 324-338.
Tushman, M.L., and Charles A. O'Reilly (1996), "Ambidextrous organizations: Managing evolutionary and revolutionary change". California Management Review, Vol. 38  No., pp. 8 - 30. 


About the special issue editors

Professor Alf Steinar Sætre
Alf Steinar Sætre is a professor at the Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. His research interests include organizational search, ambiguity in the innovation process, learning and perception in innovation processes, innovation management and organizational design, abduction and the logics of discovery and knowledge as a source of and barrier to innovation. He works closely with companies in several industries.  Alf Steinar Sætre earned his PhD at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a research associate at the Innovation, Creativity and Capital (IC”) institute. 

Dr. Nhien Nguyen
Nhien Nguyen is the Associate Editor of The Learning Organization journal (Emerald). She is a senior researcher at Nordland Research Institute, Bodø, Norway. Nhien Nguyen holds a PhD degree from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), program of Innovation Management and Strategy; and an MBA degree from Sungkyunkwan University (Seoul, South Korea) in collaboration with MIT Sloan School of Management (Cambridge, USA). She is also a member of the Norwegian Research School in Innovation (NORSI), a visiting fellow of Stanford University (SCANCOR program), MIT Sloan School of Management (MBA program), and cross-registrant with Harvard Business School when she was visiting MIT Sloan. Her research focuses are innovation management and strategy, organizational learning, learning organization, smart specialisation strategy (S3), responsible research and innovation (RRI), co-creation.