Organization Management Journal


Today’s competitive environment increasingly calls for organizations and their employees to align competencies and individual capabilities for ambidexterity. Ambidexterity is defined as the need to exploit competencies while allowing for innovative potential. The role of human capital development, and specifically understanding how existing human resources (HR) practices may limit ambidexterity, is central to career management. While career management spans both individual and organizational interests, we approach this issue from the question of how firms can manage careers to build organizational ambidexterity. We also explore what HR professionals can do to address this issue. As part of our approach, we focus on three central and interrelated issues: (a) the role of legacy effects in HR practices, which may over- or underestimate the respective competencies and capabilities needed for exploitation and exploration; we relate this issue to “goal displacement” and the “Peter Principle”; (b) the management of psychological contracts, and how implied expectations may compromise or facilitate ambidexterity; and finally, (c) the role of social networks. Our conceptual article reviews these challenges with recommendations for HR professionals and academics.