A process for building inter-organizational contextual ambidexterity

Rita Lavikka, Riitta Smeds, Miia Jaatinen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this paper is to discover a three-step process for building contextual ambidexterity into inter-organizational IT-enabled service processes through developmental interventions.
A longitudinal action research project was conducted. The empirical study consisted of three consecutive developmental interventions to support the collaborative development effort of an IT company and its customer network to efficiently serve their present and future customers. The data consists of process modeling and simulation workshop discussions, interviews, observation, and archival data. The development effort was studied for over a year.
The study shows that the three developmental interventions acted as a process for balancing the exploration-exploitation tension in inter-organizational service processes. The sequential interventions facilitated the studied organizations in crossing the inter-organizational knowledge boundaries and creating shared domain knowledge, creating common understanding of the collaborative IT-enabled service processes, and co-developing the coordination mechanisms that are essential for the continuous exploration and exploitation of the new ideas in the future collaborative service processes. These three steps built capacity for the inter-organizational management system to achieve synergies between goals, resources, and activities in the inter-organizational collaboration.
The study contributes to the understanding on the process of building inter-organizational ambidexterity. The study presents a three-step process for building inter-organizational contextual ambidexterity into the IT-enabled service processes through developmental interventions. Research on inter-organizational contextual ambidexterity is combined with research on coordination and knowledge management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1140-1161
JournalBusiness Process Management Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Ambidexterity
  • Coordination
  • Action research
  • Intervention
  • Inter-organizational
  • Knowledge boundary


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