The purpose of this paper is to explore and compare the concepts of organizational ambidexterity, the ability of organizations to simultaneously pursue contradictory goals, and adhocracy, an organizational configuration meant to be most suitable for innovation and flexibility. It concludes that the concept of adhocracy is more useful than that of adhocracy, which has clear limitations.
A review of literature involving the two concepts was conducted because initial comparison between the two showed close parallels between the two concepts – namely organizational ambidexterity and adhocracy – especially a shared orientation towards organizational effectiveness through innovation, amid dynamic and complex environment.
Important similarities between the two concepts are that both reject the idea of “one best way” to organize. Both recommend balancing of conflicting goals. However, it appears that the contemporary environment in which organizations operate has evolved beyond the adequacy of adhocracy as a suitable archetype of effective and innovative organizations. Adhocracy suggests that pendulum-like, or iterative movement is the way to balance the contradictory goals, which is largely expected to be accomplished by the operating core and support staff. And this, too, is thought to be suitable for young and small organizations. Ambidexterity is a more comprehensive concept that includes the crux of Adhocracy, and offers a wider range of approaches and methods for balancing contradictory goals.
To be fair to Mintzberg, adhocracy was an interesting concept in its time, but the organizations and their environments have moved beyond its realm of relevance and they need more than what the concept can give. Adhocracy may now move over and make space for ambidexterity.
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