As strategic innovation may lead to high revenue and profit growth a deeper understanding of any enabling organizational capabilities is highly relevant to both researchers and managers. Therefore, in this paper we focus on the concept of "ambidexterity". More specifically, we use a qualitative research in five Dutch industrial sectors to study the ambidexterity strategies that established firms use for their systematic creation of strategic innovations. We find that established companies have to cope with different ambidexterity frictions in the initiation and commercialization phases of strategic innovation projects. These results add to the emerging academic discussion on ambidexterity by showing that the appropriate ambidexterity approach may not only differ by innovation type but also by the specific phase of the innovation project. Our findings are also relevant to managerial practice as they suggest a limited value of isolated business development units for strategic innovation initiation. © 2012 Imperial College Press.