Ambidextrous leadership in context

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Företagsekonomiska institutionen

Abstract: Ambidextrous organizations are more successful as they manage to balance exploitative and explorative innovation. Organizations performance depend on the people both within the respective firm and externally, how the firm’s offerings are received. In order to stay relevant and competitive in a continuously changing environment the need for ambidextrous behavior becomes constant. The ability to handle, or at best anticipate, upcoming opportunities or set- backs to co-ordinate and combine exploitative and explorative innovations is a competitive advantage. As leadership drives performance – this puts both focus and expectations on leaders. The aim of this study was to explore ambidextrous leadership from a holistic view and more specifically; what triggers ambidextrous needs, how can ambidexterity be enabled and cultivated. Literature on ambidexterity comes in various approaches, where studies holding a holistic approach are few. Bridging the theories on ambidextrous needs with those on leadership and contrasting them to findings from this qualitative study based on semi-structured interviews. The conclusions indicated both theoretical evidence but also contradictory findings. The need for ambidexterity is unison, however, where literature focus on the paradoxical tension of managing both exploitative and explorative innovation, this is not an option for the leaders. Change is their reality having to be handled holistically. Predominantly digitalisation, globalisation and pace of change require firms’ ambidextrous initiatives in a perpetual cyclical movement through the dimensions of drive, lead and learn. Furthermore, there are additional parameters emerging as key for facilitating ambidexterity: as the impact of culture, communication and external monitoring alertness are highlighted.

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