Firm ambidexterity usually has been discussed as a top-down planned strategic choice. The purpose of this paper is to showcase it is not always so; it may also be emergent as well – but how?
The author used an in-depth, qualitative, multiple case research method for this study, and chose four cases from different industry domains for this study.
The author identified that being ambidextrous is not always planned – it may also be emergent. The emergent-strategy process of organizational ambidexterity gets initiated through ambidextrous orientation and abilities of the top management team (TMT), and their actions and behaviors influence the evolution of supporting context that promotes exploration and exploitation behavior of employees at multiple levels of hierarchy, and across different units and functions of the organization.
This study contributes to the discussions in organizational ambidexterity, deliberate-emergent strategy debate and the role of TMTs in setting the strategic path of the organization.
Attaining and sustaining firm ambidexterity is a managerial challenge. This challenge is addressable, by having ambidextrous TMTs – team members with complementary competencies of exploration and exploitation, with proper coordination within team members, and relatively balanced power sharing among the team members. Such a team at the top of the organization and their signaling builds the context to support increased exploration and exploitation activities at multiple levels of the organization.
This study showcases the emergent process of firm ambidexterity. Very few studies so far have discussed this process of becoming ambidextrous.
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