Organisational ambidexterity in manufacturing SMEs : An empirical study of managers’ and workers’ perceptions of ambidextrous elements
Abstract: Organisational ambidexterity is considered a key to company survival and performance. Despite this, organisational ambidexterity is still a poorly understood phenomenon, especially in an SME context. The purpose of this study was therefore to investigate how the compliance with ambidextrous elements is perceived at different levels in manufacturing SMEs, to increase the understanding of organisational ambidexterity in this context. The empirical data was collected through a combination of questionnaire and interview. The case companies in this report perceive that they comply stronger with contextual elements than with structural elements. The strong compliance with contextual elements is motivated by the lack of hierarchies, flexibility in the company, different management structure and low number of employees. This allows employees to perform the contextual elements such as initiative-taking, cooperating, brokering and multitasking. The structural elements including e.g. vision, values, strategies, senior team responsibility and alignment are perceived differently at different hierarchal levels, indicating that there are subcultures within the hierarchal levels within a company. The biggest difference can be found between the middle managers and the top managers,. Workers perceive that they are not included in explorationb within the company, and that the exploration occur more sporadically than those for exploitation. The definitions of exploration and exploitation vary between the companies which results in a lack of consensus. This makes it difficult for the companies to perform the changes necessary in order to develop and achieve long-term sustainable growth i.e. economical sustainability. The managerial implication of this report concerns four actions: (1) create a common definition for exploration, (2) develop goals for exploration, (3) communicate for buy-in and (4) involve all employees.
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