Alcalde Heras, H., Estensoro, M. and Larrea, M.
Competitiveness Review, Vol.30 No. 2, pp. 219-242
English // Keywords: SMEs, ambidexterity, policy networks
This paper aims to propose an analytical framework in which to study ambidexterity in the management of policy networks. The paper is inspired by the concept of organizational ambidexterity in the public sector (Smith and Umans, 2015). By focusing on policy networks fostered by public administration with the aim of supporting small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) innovation, the paper elaborates on the links between firm innovation and performance and regional development. The cases analyzed are policy networks fostered by two publicly owned county development agencies in the Basque Country (Spain). An analytical framework emerges from bridging the gap between theory and practice. By understanding ambidexterity as a dynamic capability, the authors found that key ambidexterity drivers are related to network features (motivation to balance exploration and exploitation and diversity in terms of participants) and the individual feature of diversity within the network management group. However, other individual characteristics (leadership style) and territorial features (local institutional capacity) did not provide conclusive insights, calling for a deeper analysis and complex models to capture specific nuances.