Antecedents and Performance of an Ambidextrous Strategy

The literature on strategic management shows that the choice of direction for development not only depends on the potential of the organization but is also determined by the environment, including the sector context and characteristics of the industry (Amason & Ward, 2020; Jenkins & Williamson, 2015). It also results from the knowledge, experience, and interests of the key decision-makers; therefore, it depends on the leadership and skills of the managers (Duhaime, Stimpert, & Chesley, 2011). These determinants of the choice of strategy can be considered through the lenses of antecedents, understood as “chronological predecessors of a given phenomenon, to whom, depending on the research methods used, the role of cause or condition can be attributed” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2020; Czakon, 2015a). In the literature on ambidexterity, the issue of antecedents is focused on the understanding of the process and the need to achieve ambidexterity, which means recognizing the conditions that influence the simultaneous undertaking of both exploratory and exploitative activities (Raisch & Birkinshaw, 2008). Most research in this area is fragmented, focusing on a selected group of conditions (e.g., competitiveness and dynamics of the environment; Benner & Tushman, 2003; Wang & Li, 2008), features of the organizational structure (O’Reilly & Tushman, 2008; Andriopoulos & Lewis, 2009), organizational culture (Khazanchi, Lewis, & Boyer, 2007; Chatman et al., 2013), and others. Thus, there is a need to analyze them in a holistic way. Some researchers have made such an attempt (e.g., Simsek, 2009; Lavie et al., 2010) but without empirical testing.

On the other hand, when making specific strategic choices, strategists expect certain benefits for the company, which they perceive not only in terms of financial performance, but also in terms of organizational and market outcomes, which allows them to assess the process of achieving objectives and results of strategic actions (Junni et al., 2013).

In view of the above discussion, the objective of this chapter is to discuss the most important antecedents to choosing ambidexterity as a strategy and to determine the outcomes of its implementation, which will be the subject of empirical research in the further chapter.

The individual antecedents were divided into three basic groups related to (1) the environment’s uncertainty, (2) intraorganizational conditions, and (3) strategic leadership. It should be noted that my intention was not to discuss all the possible antecedents present in the literature on exploration and exploitation activities, but to identify those that are key to choosing an ambidextrous strategy. The following section of this chapter overviews the research on ambidexterity in the context of the performance that conditions the company’s development.

 
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