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Organisational ambidexterity in UK high-tech SMEs: An exploratory study of key drivers and barriers

Chaminda Senaratne (Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)
Catherine L. Wang (Brunel Business School, Brunel University London, Uxbridge, UK)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 10 September 2018

Issue publication date: 25 October 2018




The purpose of this paper is to explore the nature of organisational ambidexterity, and identify drivers of and barriers to ambidexterity in the high-tech small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK, using fine-grained qualitative evidence. This is much needed to generate insights on how organisational ambidexterity actually takes place in SMEs.


This study is exploratory in nature, based on qualitative in-depth interview data collected from 20 UK high-tech SMEs in five industries.


The results reveal that SMEs leverage resources through intra-firm and inter-firm collaborations to pursue ambidexterity sequentially or simultaneously, using a range of drivers and overcoming a range of barriers.

Research limitations/implications

The data were gathered from a single informant from each firm. Therefore, more in-depth, longitudinal, qualitative research using multiple sources of data may be required to develop deeper insights into ambidexterity.

Practical implications

Managers of high-tech SMEs need to focus on specific barriers to ambidexterity and devise effective mechanisms to promote the drivers of ambidexterity. The mechanisms to achieve ambidexterity as identified in this study will benefit high-tech SMEs in particular, and firms in general.


The study contributes to the understanding of organisational ambidexterity in high-tech SMEs by exploring the mechanisms through which SMEs implement organisational ambidexterity despite their resource constraints. This counteracts the conventional view that it is difficult for SMEs to pursue ambidexterity.



Senaratne, C. and Wang, C.L. (2018), "Organisational ambidexterity in UK high-tech SMEs: An exploratory study of key drivers and barriers", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 25 No. 6, pp. 1025-1050.



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