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ACHIEVING SUPERIOR INTERNATIONALIZATION THROUGH STRATEGIC AMBIDEXTERITY

MARY HAN

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In this paper, I examine the optimal approach to internationalization. Drawing from the ambidexterity literature, I build on the concept of structural ambidexterity and suggest that the optimal approach occurs when firms pursue 'strategic ambidexterity,' which is characterized by simultaneously executing paradoxical strategies of pro-profit and pro-growth. I examine this approach through empirical study based on in-depth field research of two cases: Merrill Lynch, a multinational enterprise and Comdirect Bank, an international new venture. I find that a) firms that pursue strategic ambidexterity in their internationalization effort achieve above-average internationalization performance in the short term; and b) firms that pursue strategic ambidexterity in their internationalization effort also achieve above-average firm-level performance in the long term. I conclude that strategic ambidexterity is the optimal strategy by which to achieve superior performance.