Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

Behind Ambidextrous Search: The micro-foundations of Search in Family and Non-family Firms

Mazzelli, Ambra, De Massis, Alfredo, Petruzzelli, Antonio Messeni, Del Giudice, Manlio, Khan, Zaheer (2019) Behind Ambidextrous Search: The micro-foundations of Search in Family and Non-family Firms. Long Range Planning, . ISSN 0024-6301. (doi:10.1016/j.lrp.2019.05.002) (KAR id:73805)


In this paper, we offer a microfoundational perspective to challenge the consensual view of ambidextrous search as a superior approach to addressing performance problems. We characterize the nature of search as both ostensive and agentic, and suggest that search performance is idiosyncratic across individuals and highly dependent on decision makers’ cognitive frameworks and social contexts. To test our theory, we develop a mathematical simulation model that formalizes the mechanisms regulating the search behaviors of senior leaders in both family and non-family firms, thus highlighting the relevance of socio-cognitive factors. Our results suggest that a search approach that is conducive to superior performance in nonfamily firms may yield inferior performance in family firms depending on the senior leader’s family membership and her/his positional history in the firm (i.e., non-family, founder, later-generation).Moreover, we reveal that while ambidexterity constitutes a superior search approach for family firms with founder CEOs, those with non-family or later-generation CEOs would seem to benefit from specialization.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.lrp.2019.05.002
Uncontrolled keywords: Family firms, Microfoundations, Ambidexterity, Exploitation, Exploration, Social context
Divisions: Divisions > Kent Business School - Division > Department of Marketing, Entrepreneurship and International Business
Depositing User: Zaheer Khan
Date Deposited: 08 May 2019 15:15 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 17:14 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.