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|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|20189||2012||14 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||13378 کلمه|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : European Management Journal, Available online 12 August 2013
The paper addresses the issue of the exploration–exploitation dilemma, adopting a micro level of analysis. Unlike the extensive literature on ambidexterity that investigates the organizational solutions that allow firms to pursue the balance between the two kinds of learning orientation, this research draws attention to the as yet barely analyzed individual dimension of ambidexterity. Specifically, in investigating personal ambidexterity we point to the relevance of individuals’ perceptions on what their role requires of them and the actual behaviors they perform. Drawing on an inductive multiple case study carried out on managers who face daily a strong pressure to balance exploration and exploitation and are expected to perform ambidextrous behaviors, we identify four different situations at the individual level, depending on the consistency/inconsistency between individuals’ role perceptions and their actual behaviors: enacted personal ambidexterity, dominant learning orientation, perceived personal ambidexterity and full personal ambidexterity. Moreover, our study adds to the ambidexterity literature by suggesting theoretical propositions on how individual characteristics, namely prior work experience and behavioral competency profile, may impact on the different situations of personal ambidexterity we identified and how the consistency/inconsistency between individuals’ perceptions and behaviors may contribute to sustaining or jeopardizing full personal ambidexterity.
The ability of a firm to exploit its current competencies as well as to explore new opportunities represents the core of organizational learning. However, due to the incompatible nature of the exploitative and exploratory activities (March, 1991), the trade-off to pursue both these kinds of learning orientation has been tackled for a long time, suggesting different ambidextrous organizational solutions: structural, sequential and contextual ambidexterity (Gibson and Birkinshaw, 2004, Siggelkow and Levinthal, 2003 and Tushman and O’Reilly, 1996). Despite the valuable insights that this body of literature has provided, a main limitation can be highlighted. These studies, adopting the firm level of analysis, implicitly assume homogeneity at the individual level, neglecting how the organizational members might influence the firm’s ability to pursue a balance between exploration and exploitation The contributions of the behavioral theory of the firm (Cyert and March, 1963, March and Simon, 1958 and Simon, 1985), reinforced by the recent debate on the micro-level origins of a firm’s capabilities (Felin et al., 2012 and Foss, 2011), have shown that the individuals’ characteristics are important antecedents of the development of organizational capabilities. In addition, recent literature reviews on ambidexterity have called for research spanning multiple levels of analysis (Raisch and Birkinshaw, 2008, Raisch et al., 2009, Rosing et al., 2011 and Turner et al., 2012). However, only few studies have delved into the micro-foundation of ambidexterity. These contributions point to the relevance of the individual characteristics as well as preferences in orientating the performance of exploratory and exploitative activities. This paper maintains the explanatory relevance of a more fine-grained level of analysis in studying ambidexterity since, according to Raisch et al. (2009), investigating further the individual side of ambidexterity (personal ambidexterity) may contribute to understanding how to balance exploration and exploitation within a unit or firm (organizational ambidexterity). First, as suggested by prior contributions, even if individuals could correctly perceive the kind of learning orientation expected by their role (people’s perceptions of what their job requests of them), at the same time they might not activate consistent behaviors in their daily activities since they may not be able to face the challenge of reconciling dual demands ( Gupta et al., 2006 and Raisch et al., 2009). Second, research on role theory ( Katz & Kahn, 1966) and cognitive dissonance theory ( Festinger, 1957) shows that when perceptions are consistent with actual behaviors individuals tend to be more satisfied and to perform more. Such a complex relationship between individuals’ role perceptions on what they are expected to perform and their actual behaviors suggests that both these two different dimensions should be considered in investigating personal ambidexterity. Moreover, if ambidexterity at the individual level may present different facets according to the consistency/inconsistency between role perceptions and actual behaviors, a further advantage of adopting the micro level of analysis is the possibility to investigate those personal characteristics that favor individuals to be ambidextrous not only in their perceptions but also in their actions. As argued in prior research, the possession of personal characteristics (such as technical competence) moderate the relationship between task characteristics and role perceptions, as well as leading to a more efficient and effective performance of behaviors ( Gilbert, De Winne, & Sels, 2011). Although ambidexterity literature acknowledges that ambidextrous individuals have to fulfill different and contradictory activities, what makes individuals correctly perceive their ambidextrous role and behave consistently is still an open issue. Accordingly, the research questions addressed in this paper are: (a) how can ambidexterity at individual level be detected and classified? (b) how may individual characteristics contribute to achieving personal ambidexterity? Our contribution is twofold. First, we add to the studies on personal ambidexterity by proposing a classification of ambidexterity at individual level which depends on the comparison between the individual’s perceptions and behaviors. Second, the paper offers new insights into the role of individual characteristics that explain why individuals may or may not perceive that a balance between exploration and exploitation is expected from them and may or may not perform a consistent behavior. From the analysis of the empirical evidence we have developed some propositions that can be further tested in future research. In order to answer our research questions and to build novel theory on personal ambidexterity, we carried out an inductive multiple case study (Eisenhardt, 1989) on individuals who face daily a strong pressure to balance exploration and exploitation and are expected to perform ambidextrous behaviors. This paper is organized as follows: the following section introduces the notion of personal ambidexterity against the backdrop of previous research targeting the organizational level of analysis. The method section provides details about the cases, data collection and data analysis. Next, we present the empirical evidence illustrating the classification of personal ambidexterity we propose, and we explain the factors that may impact on the challenge to reconcile both exploration and exploitation at the individual level. Finally, we conclude with a discussion of the results, implications, and directions for further research.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Our research contributes to the existing literature on ambidexterity at individual level in three ways. First, we added to the analysis of actual behaviors, performed by individuals who are expected to fulfill ambidextrous roles, the investigation of their perceptions on the learning orientation requested of them by their role. In doing so, we suggest a classification of personal ambidexterity, which compares the individuals’ perceptions with their actual behaviors highlighting that individuals with ambidextrous role may show balanced or unbalanced perceptions and at the same time they may perform behaviors which are consistent or inconsistent with their perceptions. Second, unlike prior studies which focus on organizational and contextual factors that may enable and support employees to become ambidextrous, our study advances the research on the individual factors as antecedents of personal ambidexterity, suggesting the relevant role of prior work experience and competency profile. Third, we provide empirical evidence on the influence of individuals’ perceptions in sustaining or jeopardizing their balanced or unbalanced behaviors. More specifically, we offer insights on how individuals’ perceptions, potential role tensions (i.e. role ambiguity and role conflict) and cognitive dissonance may contribute to distance from or to get close to a situation of “full personal ambidexterity”. We summarized our contributions in more formal terms suggesting propositions, on the one hand, on the relationship between individual characteristics and ambidextrous behaviors and, on the other, on shifts from one type of personal ambidexterity to another, which can be tested by future research. Moreover, some managerial implications can be drawn. First, the exclusive focus on only individuals’ perceptions or only individuals’ behaviors offers a partial perspective in the analysis of personal ambidexterity. Firms need to be aware of the complexity of achieving a “full personal ambidexterity” and should take into account both individual perceptions and behaviors. Moreover, our analysis provides suggestions to firms on how to promote “full personal ambidexterity.” First, our research points to the need to clarify and communicate appropriately the requirements of ambidextrous roles, in order to avoid problems of role ambiguity, role conflict and or cognitive dissonance. Second, our findings on factors which influence balanced behaviors suggest how to manage human resources in order to promote “full personal ambidexterity” by recruiting and selecting people on the basis of criteria such as the past inter-functional or inter-firm experience or the combination of emotional and social competencies which enable them to pursue effective ambidextrous behaviors. Moreover, training should be aimed to modify employees’ personal characteristics, for instance through specific programs aimed at developing broad work experiences and/or building individuals’ competency profiles. In this regard, series of longitudinal and clinical studies have provided evidence on successful training processes that yield sustained behavioral change and development in the set of emotional and social competencies (Boyatzis, 2007). Finally, in our study, some limitations can be highlighted. First, we did not investigate how the organizational expectations of ambidextrous roles have been communicated. This analysis can complement the study of individuals’ role interpretation and activation. Second, we did not consider how the differences in terms of type and variety of individual prior work experience (inter-functional, inter-firms and inter-industry) may influence differently the ability of reconciling both explorative and exploitative activities as required by ambidextrous roles. This could represent a promising line of future research. Third, in the investigation on emotional and social competencies as determinants of ambidextrous behaviors may benefit from a multi-rater approach, involving in the evaluation of individual competencies other actors such as supervisors, collaborators, and colleagues. Finally, our exploratory study did not investigate the mutual relationship between individual prior work experience and competency profile in affecting personal ambidexterity. Future research should explore whether they operate as substitutes in promoting a balanced orientation towards exploration and exploitation, or whether they complement each other, supporting and reinforcing themselves reciprocally.