© 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited. Purpose: It is increasingly recognised that managers play a central role in organisational ambidexterity. While some scholars have recently begun to explain the nature and antecedents of ambidextrous behaviour among managers, much remains to be learned about the micro-foundations of this behaviour. Adopting a people–situation interaction approach, this paper investigates the antecedents to managerial ambidexterity from both situational and individual difference considerations. Design/methodology/approach: This study adopts a quantitative approach using a combination of survey and archival data from 305 managers. Findings: The results indicate that learning goal orientation is positively related with managerial ambidexterity, whereas there is no significant relationship between functional experience breadth and managerial ambidexterity. In testing moderation effects, discretionary slack is found to positively moderate the association between learning goal orientation and ambidexterity and between functional experiences and ambidexterity. Practical implications: This paper provides suggestions on employees selection and training, along with organisational support, in enacting managerial ambidexterity. Originality/value: Guided by individual difference theory, this paper adds value to one’s understanding of the antecedents to managerial ambidexterity. It contributes to the ambidexterity literature from the micro-foundation perspective.