Principals between exploitation and exploration: Results of a nationwide study on ambidexterity of school leaders

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Both organizational and management research suggest that schools and their leaders need to beambidextrous to secure prosperity and long-term survival in dynamic environments characterizedby competition and innovation. In this context, ambidexterity refers to the ability to simultaneouslypursue exploitation and exploration and thus to deliver efficiency, control and incrementalimprovements while embracing flexibility, autonomy and discontinuous innovation. Using a unique,randomized and representative data set ofN¼405 principals, we present findings on principals’exploitation and exploration. The results indicate: (a) that principals engage far more often inexploitative than in explorative activities; (b) that exploitative activities in schools are executed atthe expense of explorative activities; and (c) that explorative and ambidextrous activities ofprincipals are positively associated with the (perceived) competition between schools. The studybrings a novel perspective to educational research and demonstrates that applying the concept ofambidexterity has the potential to further our understanding of effective educational leadershipand management.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEducational Management, Administration & Leadership
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)574-592
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 01.07.2022

Bibliographical note

The author(s) declared the following potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The study has been supported by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF).

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