Micro-foundations of organizational ambidexterity in the context of cross-border mergers and acquisitions

Micro-foundational approaches can enable firms to develop organizational ambidexterity, which is critical to long-term prosperity. However, to date, few studies have examined how mergers and acquisitions (M&A)—processes reliant on knowledge transfer—provide a useful organizational context through which to understand the achievement of organizational ambidexterity. Considering organizational ambidexterity from the viewpoint of exploitative and explorative innovation, we examine how behavioural contexts (corporate entrepreneurship) and structure (integration) regulate knowledge transfer activities at the micro-foundational and firm levels within a cross-border M&A context. Analysis of 143 cross-border M&As completed by United Kingdom (UK) acquiring firms revealed that: (1) knowledge sharing between the acquirer and the acquired leads to organizational ambidexterity; (2) increased use of the acquired target’s capabilities has a negative effect on organizational ambidexterity; (3) overall, capability sharing is positively related to organizational ambidexterity; (4) corporate entrepreneurship has both negative and positive moderating effects (on use of the acquired target’s capabilities and capability sharing, respectively), while integration positively moderates the effects of knowledge sharing on organizational ambidexterity.