Scholars have increasingly argued that organizational ambidexterity may in part root in managers’ ambidextrous behaviors. Although some studies provide valuable descriptions of managers’ ambidextrous behaviors, ambidexterity research at this level of analyses would benefit from further conceptualization. Based on previous studies, three related characteristics of manager ambidexterity are proposed and clarified as " coexistence”, " switch” and " synergy” in terms of how to balance explorative and exploitative activities. First, coexistence means that ambidextrous managers achieve a balance between exploration and exploitation activities by unbalancing to counter the tendency to become more exploitation oriented, because of their risk aversion and inclination toward efficiency. Second, switch means that managing the tension between exploration and exploitation requires ambidextrous managers’ behavioral flexibility to switch between different and often paradoxical activities in correspondence to the environmental demands. Last, synergy involves shifting levels of analysis to identify potential linkages which means holding sustained attention to possible synergies between exploitation and exploration activities. The former is referred to as the " Combined Dimension of Ambidexterity” and the latter as the " Balance Dimension of Ambidexterity”. Unfortunately, the combination of both dimensions has never been used in the empirical study, so it is still not clear about inter-relationships and combined effects of these two dimensions, and this gap should be addressed in future studies. Studies on antecedents to manager ambidexterity have provided insights into the factors that might contribute to managers’ ambidextrous behaviors, including variables at both individual and organizational levels. Based on the three characteristics of manager ambidexterity proposed by this paper, how and why are those factors linked to a manger’s success in balancing exploration and exploitation activities is comprehensively elaborated. There are primarily two streams of research in terms of the effect of manager ambidexterity, one is its impact on the performance of individual managers, and the other is the influence of managerial ambidextrous leading styles on the performance of subordinate individuals or teams from the perspective of leadership behaviors. Generally speaking, our understanding about the conditions under which ambidextrous managers may be most effective is far from complete, and therefore more research is needed for a better understanding about how and when manager ambidexterity leads to success at the individual, team and organizational levels. Finally, this paper closes with a point of view on the promising areas for ongoing research, including measurement issues, antecedents, effects, and hierarchical and functional related issues.
Manager Ambidexterity: A Literature Review and Prospects
Foreign Economics & Management Vol. 40, Issue 08, pp. 112 - 124 (2018) DOI:10.16538/j.cnki.fem.2018.08.009
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Cite this article
Li Yue. Manager Ambidexterity: A Literature Review and Prospects[J]. Foreign Economics & Management, 2018, 40(8): 112-124.