Scholars have recognized that formal hierarchical structures and slack resources are at the core of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) attainment of ambidexterity. Surprisingly, few studies on SMEs have analyzed the extent to which these structural and resource attributes are associated with exploration and exploitation. This study aims to examine how two structural attributes, formalization and structural empowerment, and two resource attributes, financial slack and human resource slack, affect exploration and exploitation in SMEs.
Data were gathered from a survey administered to the chief executive officers of 522 French SMEs. The research hypotheses were then tested using seemingly unrelated regressions to investigate the contrasts between the two components of ambidexterity.
The results show that structural empowerment and financial slack may be conducive to exploration and exploitation at the same time. By contrast, formalization and human resource slack impact only one of these two ambidexterity components in significant ways: the former may be a powerful lever for exploitation, while the latter may be a powerful lever for exploration.
Relying on a dual structure–resource perspective, this study allows us to discuss the distinct impacts that several organizational antecedents have on exploration and exploitation in the specific context of SMEs. It thus addresses the recent call to identify which antecedents are integrating and which are differentiating to help firms deal with ambidexterity.
The authors would like to acknowledge the COACTIS (EA4161) research center and the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region for the data used in this study.
Berard, C. and Fréchet, M. (2020), "Organizational antecedents of exploration and exploitation in SMEs: The role of structural and resource attributes", European Business Review, Vol. 32 No. 2, pp. 211-226. https://doi.org/10.1108/EBR-12-2018-0216Download as .RIS
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