Communications of the Association for Information Systems


With the current pace of digital innovation, corporations and startups alike are experiencing the challenge of surviving in hypercompetitive environments. Accordingly, the management literature proposes “organizational ambidexterity”, the ability to balance exploitative and exploratory efforts, as a means of survival. Based on observations and interviews with startups and investors affiliated with the entrepreneurial educational program SCALEit, this study investigates how startups can manage ambidexterity in pursuing digital innovation. Our study concludes that startups conducting digital innovation manage to attain organizational ambidexterity through internal and external adaptation by combining and enacting competencies. The startups have access to a competency portfolio that comprises eight core competencies across organizational boundaries. The startup CEO, team members, and individuals in the ecosystem that surround the startup provide these competencies, which reveals a new perspective on how to achieve organizational ambidexterity through leveraging both internal and external competencies.