The Micro-Foundation of Ambidextrous Foreign Direct Investment

Xinli Huang, Di Fan, Xiaoming He, Yiyi Su

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Pursuing ambidextrous foreign direct investment (FDI) has been suggested as a desirable strategic choice of emerging economy (EE) firms in their internationalization. Yet, reconciling explorative and exploitative activities overseas is complicated due to their conflicting and tensional nature. This study explores why some EE firms can achieve high levels of ambidextrous FDI while others cannot. Drawing on upper echelons theory, we propose a micro-foundation perspective of ambidextrous FDI by studying top management teams' (TMTs) attributes. Applying a configurational approach to a sample of 294 EE firms' FDI observations (of which 43 are ambidextrous FDI in nature) from 2011 to 2015, we not only confirm the equal importance of both TMT incentive and cognitive factors as causal conditions to achieve a high degree of ambidextrous FDI, but also provide original evidence on the interactive configurations of those factors that lead to ambidextrous FDI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-582
Number of pages32
JournalManagement and Organization Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


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