The Micro-Dynamics of Intra-Organizational and Individual Action and their Role in Organizational Ambidexterity




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Wiley Online Library



Peer reviewed



Abstract Organizational ambidexterity has emerged as a valuable contemporary lens on organizational design and action, examining the dynamic relationships between exploitative (extant) and explorative (evolving) resources within organizational contexts and environments. This paper analyzes the literature pertaining to ambidexterity and underlines a number of recurrent preoccupations including: definition of the nature, characteristics and normative boundaries of organizational ambidexterity; a predilection towards considering inter-firm/unit comparisons of large-scale corporate organizations; and, a concentration on the significance of the managerialistic role of senior management team’s disposition and action-orientations. While a few calls have been made for a focus on the micro, predominant attention has remained on the macro-aspects of organizational ambidexterity. The aim of the paper, therefore, is to conduct a complementary study that considers the boundaries and transitions between exploitative and explorative modes at the intra-organizational, individual micro-behavioral level. To facilitate this, the paper surfaces and underscores the paradigmatic modernistic characterization of large areas of the current organizational ambidexterity literature and the implications of this. Moreover, it explores alternative potentially useful critical paradigms which assist in providing tools with which to examine the ‘micro’. The research conducts an ethnographic-style study of quasi-public training and development organization in order to illustrate the above background contexts and the micro-interface and boundary of explorative and exploitative modes of organizational ambidexterity in the intra-organizational situation. Within this, the study points up the significance of the role of sense-making in operational micro-moment individual and small-group situations, and their vital influence in ultimately underpinning, and contributing to, macro-organizational ambidextrous contexts. Keywords: organizational ambidexterity, intra-firm/unit, micro-moments, paradigms.



Organizational ambidexterity


Stokes, P. Moore, N, Mathews, M, Moss, D, and Smith, S., Liu, Y (2015) The Micro-Dynamics of Intra-Organizational and Individual Action and their Role in Organizational Ambidexterity. Human Resource Management (USA), 54 (1), pp. 63-86


Research Institute

Centre for Enterprise and Innovation (CEI)