Contextual ambidexterity and innovation in healthcare in India

the role of HRM

Ashish Malik, Brendan Boyle, Rebecca Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine innovation in the resource-constrained context of India’s healthcare industry. It is argued that the process of innovation in addressing healthcare management challenges in such a context occurs through organisational ambidexterity and that human resource management (HRM) plays an important role.

Design/methodology/approach: A qualitative research methodology is applied to explore the role of HR practices in facilitating contextual ambidexterity and subsequent innovations in healthcare in India. The unit of analysis is the “case” of healthcare providers in India and in-depth interview and documentary data in two case sites are analysed to reveal the role of HRM in facilitating contextual ambidexterity and innovation. Data analysis was undertaken first at a within-case and then at a cross-case analysis level using interpretive manual coding based on how the data explained the role of HRM in delivering innovative outcomes and supporting organisational ambidexterity.

Findings: The authors found evidence of the use of sets of high-involvement HRM practices for exploration of new ideas and efficiency-driven HRM practices for creating contextual ambidexterity in the case organisations. Further, managerial/leadership style was found to play an important role in creating cultures of trust, openness, risk-taking and employee empowerment, supported by an appropriate mix of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Finally, training was also reported as being central to creating an ambidextrous context for delivering on various innovations in these healthcare providers.

Originality/value: This study represents an exploration of innovation in the context of India’s healthcare sector through intersecting literatures of ambidexterity, innovation and HRM practices. In light of the emerging economy research context, an important empirical contribution is palpable. Moreover, through a study design which included collecting data from multiple informants on the role of human resources in facilitating innovative outcomes, the authors reveal the role of HR-related initiatives, beyond formal HR practices in creating contextual ambidexterity. This study also reveals the degree to which contextual idiosyncrasies enhance our understanding of the role of HR in facilitating innovation in emerging economies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1358-1380
Number of pages23
JournalPersonnel Review
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Innovation
  • Qualitative
  • Healthcare
  • Ambidexterity

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