High tech organizations confront dual demands of exploring new products/processes and exploiting existing products/processes. Research shows that ambidextrous organizations can better manage these dual demands, but our understanding of the antecedents that lead to ambidexterity is still emerging. In addition, previous research has taken a piecemeal approach to understand ambidexterity and does not fully consider its multilevel nature. This research takes a multilevel perspective and argues that a competency in ambidexterity involves three capabilities at different organizational levels: decision risk (strategic level), structural differentiation (project level), and contextual alignment (meso level). After correcting for endogeneity we empirically examine the relationship between these antecedents and ambidexterity competency by collecting multi-level data from 34 high tech business units and 110 exploration and exploitation R&D projects. The results indicate that decision risk and contextual alignment affect ambidexterity competency for high tech organizations. Structural differentiation does not affect ambidexterity competency but has mixed effects on R&D project performance.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank John Ettlie, Andrew Van de Ven, Kingshuk K Sinha, Benjamin Campbell, Gurneeta Vasudeva Singh, John Gray and the Operations Management Seminar Participants at the Carlson School of Management for helpful comments and feedback on previous versions of the paper. In addition, the paper is also benefited from useful comments and feedback from the Academy of Management & Academy of Innovation and Entrepreneurship meetings. Funding for this research was provided by the Joseph Juran Center for Leadership in Quality at the University of Minnesota .
- High tech organizations
- R&D project management