Coping with uncertainty is a fundamental challenge for firms. One way they can respond is by building up strategic flexibility. By looking at airlines’ flexibility responses to regulatory uncertainty associated with their inclusion in the European Union Emission Trading Scheme, this article shows that firms can respond to regulatory uncertainty by developing such flexibility in two ways: they can either anticipate the potential consequences of changing regulatory conditions and try to prepare for them; or they can adapt quickly and efficiently to them once the regulatory situation has become clear. By examining evidence from nine case studies, the article identifies the organizational capabilities required to pursue an anticipatory or adaptive strategy and demonstrates that each type of response requires a specific bundle of capabilities.
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