This study aims to explore the innovation deployment of construction contracting firms through exploratory–exploitative learning and organisational ambidexterity.
Firstly, a literature-based conceptual framework was developed to explain innovation implementation through exploratory–exploitative learning and organisational ambidexterity. A prominent Hong Kong construction contracting firm was then selected as the case study to explore its innovation deployment at different organisational levels (i.e. firm and project levels). Qualitative data were attained by conducting 12 semi-structured interviews with industry experts and document analysis. The thematic analysis using NVivo 12 software was adopted to analyse data.
Findings reveal that the case study firm successfully fosters innovation when ambidexterity is achieved through the balance between exploratory (i.e. radical innovation) and exploitative learnings (i.e. incremental innovation).
Establishing uniform ambidexterity (i.e. 50:50) at the firm or project level is not mandatory to deploy innovation successfully. The ratio can vary based on the characteristics and requirements of construction firms.
This paper shall motivate construction practitioners to adopt radical–incremental innovation ambidexterity in firms and ultimately enhance the productivity and efficiency of the construction industry. Originality/value: Previous construction innovation research has frequently explored firm or project-level innovation separately. This study identified a multi-level focus on innovation. Through the lens of exploratory–exploitative theory, different forms of innovation ambidexterity for different levels are suggested rather than one specific ambidexterity.