Discussion and Managerial Implications

The research procedure was conducted to diagnose the strategic choices of companies operating in Poland, including in particular the choice of an ambidextrous strategy together with the factors determining that choice and the effects of the strategy, especially in the context of financial and market performance. In the course of conducting the theoretical deliberations, the main hypothesis was put forward, which was developed into the nine specific hypotheses included in the research model, which were then subjected to empirical testing. The individual statistical analysis and the structural equation model, which took into account the influence of all the factors at the same time, made it possible to adopt some of the detailed hypotheses, as summarized in Table 4.37.

In light of these results, it is not possible to fully confirm the main hypothesis.

MH. An ambidextrous strategy has a positive impact on a company’s performance, though the selection of such a strategy depends on how it is formulated and is determined by the uncertainty of the environment, resources, organizational structure, behavioral context, and strategic leadership.

However, eliminating those factors which proved to be irrelevant, it can be modified as follows:

MHmodjfied. An ambidextrous strategy has a positive impact on company’s performance, though the selection of such a strategy depends on how it is formulated and is determined by the resource interdependency, organizational structure, behavioral context, and the interaction of open and closed leadership behaviors.

The hypothesis formulated in this way is true for companies operating in Polish conditions.

Hypothesis

Result

Comments

Statistical

tests and

correlations

(separate

influence of

individual

variables)

Structural model (cumulative impact of all variables)

HI: The choice of ambidextrous strategy is positively linked to the process of forming and implementing the strategy in an enterprise, in the sense that it requires both a rational/ analytical and an emergent approach

Confirmed

Confirmed

The approach to the creation and implementation of the strategy is one of the strongest determinants of the choice of an ambidextrous strategy

H2: Uncertainty of environment is positively linked to the selection of the ambidextrous strategy in the sense that the higher the (a) dynamics, (b) complexity, and (c) unpredictability of the environment, the higher the company’s inclination to select the ambidextrous strategy

  • (a) Rejected
  • (b) Rejected
  • (c) Rejected
  • (a) Rejected
  • (b) Rejected
  • (c) Rejected

There is only one statistically significant relationship, namely between the discontinuity and nonlinearity of changes in the environment and the choice of an ambidextrous strategy

H3: Resources at the company’s disposal are positively linked to the selection of the ambidextrous strategy in the sense that (a) the better the access to them and the greater the related slack resources and (b) the lower the resource-based interdependence, the higher the company’s inclination to select the ambidextrous strategy

  • (a) Rejected
  • (b) Rejected
  • (a) Rejected
  • (b) Rejected

The inverse relationship turned out to be true, that is, the greater the resource dependency (especially within the internal units), the greater the willingness to choose an ambidextrous strategy

Hypothesis

Result

Comments

Statistical

tests and

correlations

(separate

influence of

individual

variables)

Structural model (cumulative impact of all variables)

H4: The organizational structure is positively linked to the selection of the ambidextrous strategy in the sense that: (a) the stronger the structural differentiation of exploration and exploitation tasks, (b) the higher the decentralization of decisions, (c) the lower the formalization of non-routine tasks, (d) the higher the formalization of routine tasks, (e) the stronger the cross-functional interfaces, and (f) the stronger the social relations, then the higher the company’s inclination to select the ambidextrous strategy

  • (a) Confirmed
  • (b) Confirmed
  • (c) Rejected
  • (d) Confirmed
  • (e) Confirmed
  • (f) Rejected
  • (a) Confirmed
  • (b) Confirmed
  • (c) Rejected
  • (d) Confirmed
  • (e) Rejected
  • (f) Rejected

Cross-functional interfaces as a separate factor influence the choice of an ambidextrous strategy, but given the cumulative impact of all antecedents they are no longer relevant. Therefore, Hypothesis H4e should ultimately be falsified

H5: The organizational context is positively linked to the selection of the ambidextrous strategy in the sense that: (a) the higher the level of both social support and performance management, (b) the higher the organizational diversity and the more shared vision, (c) the more the organizational systems are conducive to both adjustment and adaptation, then the higher the company’s inclination to select the ambidextrous strategy

  • (a) Rejected
  • (b) Confirmed
  • (c) Rejected
  • (a) Rejected
  • (b) Rejected
  • (c) Rejected

In the structural model, the individual partial hypotheses were rejected, but taking them together as the effect of interactions of individual pairs and taking into consideration the size of the company, Hypothesis H5 should be accepted

Н6: The (a) larger and (b) older the enterprise, the higher the company’s inclination to select the ambidextrous strategy

  • (a) Confirmed
  • (b) Rejected
  • (a) Confirmed
  • (b) Rejected

The size of the company in the structural model has been presented as a variable of the organizational context

H7: Strategic leadership is positively linked to the selection of the ambidextrous strategy in the sense that: (a) the more the top management is involved in exploration and exploitation activities, (b) the higher the level of interaction between open and closed leadership behaviors, and the stronger (c) the shared vision, (d) social integration, and (e) situational remuneration of top managers, then the higher the company’s inclination to select the ambidextrous strategy

  • (a) Rejected
  • (b) Confirmed
  • (c) Rejected

(d) Rejected

(e) Confirmed

  • (a) Rejected
  • (b) Confirmed
  • (c) Rejected

(d) Rejected

(e) Rejected

Conditional remuneration of managers as a separate factor influences the choice of an ambidextrous strategy, but given the cumulative impact of aH antecedents it is no longer relevant. Therefore, Hypothesis H7e should ultimately be falsified

H8: The ambidextrous strategy has a positive impact on company performance expressed through (a) financial and (b) market parameters

Confirmed

Confirmed

The implementation of an ambidextrous strategy has a stronger impact on improving market parameters than financial ones

H9: Market orientation moderates the relationship between the ambidextrous strategy and company performance in the sense that balancing the reactive and proactive orientations yields better results than imbalance between them

Not verified

Rejected

Market orientation moderates the relationship between an ambidextrous strategy and business performance, with the advantage of proactive orientation over reactive orientation yielding better results

In a broader discussion of the results of this research, it should be noted that the choice of an ambidextrous strategy is related to the company’s approach to creating and implementing strategy, which combines elements of a deliberate approach with an emergent one. This therefore confirms the findings of other researchers (e.g., Andersen &C Nielsen, 2007; Burgelman, 2002; Kortmann, 2015; Qaiyum &c Wang, 2016) who have proven that through the simultaneous implementation of autonomous and induced strategic processes, ambidextrous companies achieve better results. This also fits into the general trend of behavioral strategies, which divides them into deliberate and spontaneous (emergent) strategies (Mint- zberg &c Waters, 1985), whereby in practice the process of strategy development is always a combination of elements of both approaches (Grant, 2016). From the perspective of an ambidextrous approach, the difference is that the simultaneity of the deliberate and emergent approaches is not the only condition for choosing an ambidextrous strategy, but the company has to focus on both of them to a high degree, that is, they must synoptically set goals while flexibly exploiting fleeting opportunities as a result of decisions taken independently at lower levels of management. Only with such an approach is a company able to benefit from simultaneous exploration and exploitation activities?

A completely irrelevant antecedent to companies operating in Poland choosing the ambidextrous strategy turned out to be the environment in which they operate. Many studies around the world have confirmed that an ambidextrous strategy is the best way to develop a company in a changing environment (Jansen, Van Den Bosch, & Volberda, 2006; Mom, Van Den Bosch, & Volberda, 2009; Vahlne & Jonsson, 2017), with tough competition (Jansen, Volberda, &C Van den Bosch, 2005), complexity (Cantarello, 2011; Dutta, 2013b), or unpredictability and the associated uncertainty (Bedford, 2015; Lin, Yang, & Demirkan, 2007; Simsek, 2009). However, in Poland, in the opinion of the majority of respondents, the environment is not uncertain, and changes within it are not frequent or drastic, and are rather predictable. This perception of the environment, which contrasts with a generally shared view of changeability and uncertainty, can be explained by three groups of premises:

  • 1. The industry structure of economic operators—In Poland, high-tech industries, which particularly face intensity and uncertainty of changes in the environment, especially due to technical and technological progress, do not represent a significant share of businesses in general. It is estimated that the entire high-tech sector accounts for about 3% of all entities (Zakrzewska-Bielawska, 2011), while studies which indicate the significance of changes in the environment when choosing an ambidextrous strategy were conducted primarily in this sector and on innovative markets (e.g., Kollmann, Kuckertz, & Stockmann, 2009; Wang & Rafiq, 2014). In Poland, the dominant sector is industrial processing and wholesale and retail trade; under such operating conditions, especially in trade and traditional industry, things may be more certain. On the other hand, Bratnicka’s (2017) study referring to Polish conditions indicates that the dynamism and hostility of the environment moderates the relationship between organizational creativity and the company’s competitive advantage, which means that an ambidextrous approach increases the company’s competitive advantage as competition and the volatility of its environment increase. However, the author limited her research to large- and medium-sized enterprises, and the research approach presented in this monograph also includes small entities, which often operate in a more local market, where changes are less severe and more predictable.
  • 2. The timeframe adopted in the research—Respondents assessed the dynamism, complexity, and unpredictability of the environment over the last three years; changes in individual industries, especially those less sensitive to technological progress, could take place over a longer period of time.
  • 3. The awareness of managers and the ability to assess particular phenomena—Awareness is a state of knowledge, views, and ideas about a given phenomenon (iMirvis, 2008). Therefore, the extent to which managers were aware of changes in the environment affected their perception. The more they were unaware of the changes in the markets in which their companies operated, the more the environment was considered constant and predictable.

Due to the way the environment is perceived as more secure, its dynamics, complexity, and unpredictability are not an antecedent to the choice of an ambidextrous strategy, which has been indicated as the one to choose primarily in uncertain conditions (Kriz, Voola, & Yuksel, 2014). In the context of Polish conditions, the managerial staff successfully implement an ambidextrous strategy in both certain and less certain environments.

The implementation of the ambidextrous strategy requires adequate resources and for them to be allocated both to exploratory activities, in order to expand existing product and market domains, and to exploitation activities in order to increase operational efficiency (O’Reilly & Tushman, 2008; Wassmer, Li, & Madhok, 2017). In Polish conditions, the managers mostly declared having sufficient resources for the implementation of the company’s strategy, regardless of the concept of development that is adopted, and in the case of a shortage they are able to obtain the necessary resources easily and quickly. Consequently, availability and resource slack do not influence the choice of an ambidextrous strategy, but the declared access to resources and the associated resource slack allow for an ambidextrous strategy, which has also been confirmed by other researchers (e.g., Bledow et al., 2009; Judge & Blocker, 2008; Raisch & Birkinshaw,

2008; Venkatraman, Lee, & Iyer, 2007). On the other hand, resources can be considered in terms of their interdependence, both external and internal. The literature points out that resource interdependence gives rise to a risk of conflict and a greater need for coordination (Lavie, 2006; Jansen, Simsek, & Cao, 2012); therefore, the less resource interdependence, the better the results that should arise from the implementation of the strategy, especially the ambidextrous strategy, which requires the involvement of adequate resources in activities of a different nature. The surveyed companies indicated that they co-create strategic resources with external partners, but they declared a low degree of resource interdependence with other organizations. The situation is different in the case of internal resource interdependence, where most companies declare having close cooperation and a need to share resources between strategic business units. Moreover, the higher this interdependence, the greater the willingness to choose the ambidextrous strategy. This is probably the result of mutual associations between exploration and exploitation activities (Lavie, Stettner, &C Tushman, 2010), which are complementary to each other (Gupta, Smith, & Shalley, 2006) and which require close cooperation and an exchange of information between business units in order to achieve its objectives.

The choice of an ambidextrous strategy in these companies is most strongly determined by structural conditions, which was confirmed especially in the first trend of research on the concept of ambidexterity (e.g., Duncan, 1976; He & Wong, 2004; Raisch, 2008; Tushman 8c O’Reilly, 1996; Tushman et al., 2010). The structural differentiation, which refers to the spatial separation of exploration and exploitation tasks, fosters the effective implementation of this strategy, as also noted by other researchers (Benner & Tushman, 2003; Chen, R. R., & Kannan-Narasimhan, R. R, 2015; Kortmann, 2012; Mom, Van Den Bosch, & Volberda, 2009). Likewise, decentralization favors the choice of an ambidextrous strategy and its effective implementation, which has also been confirmed by studies to date (Jansen, Van den Bosch, & Volberda, 2006; Mihalache et ah, 2014). It should be noted that the more the structure is differentiated, the more decentralization there is within the company. In turn, formalization affects the choice of an ambidextrous strategy, but only in terms of formalizing routine activities, which is in line with the results reported by Kortman (2012). The level of formalization is influenced by decentralization: the higher it is, the higher the level of formalization of exploitation activities. Less formalization of exploration (non-routine) activities, which should foster the creativity of employees (Gibson & Birkinshaw, 2004), did not take place in the companies surveyed in this study; on the contrary, these activities were formalized regardless of the choice of strategy. This is confirmed in the study by Kang and Snell (2009), who noted that formalization does not have to limit exploration activities, and by Wei, Yi, and Yuan (2011), who showed that formalization can enhance the positive impact of bottom-up learning on exploration activities, provided it is not too high. Cross-functional interfaces (e.g., in the form of task teams) and social links, expressing the relationships between employees, had no influence on the choice of an ambidextrous strategy in the companies in this study, with the vast majority of the managerial staff considering them to be strong. Therefore, the findings of Jansen et al. (2009) can be extended: such links—which are coordination mechanisms—are conducive not only to an ambidextrous strategy but also to other developmental concepts.

An important complementary factor to structural conditions is the behavioral context at the level of individual employees and expressed through systems, processes, values, norms, and beliefs that influence the behavior of members of the organization (Gibson & Birkinshaw, 2004). In the literature on the subject, the behavioral context has been relatively rarely studied, and few studies so far have analyzed its impact from the perspective of the interaction of performance management (i.e., the combination of discipline and task spread) with social support (combining support with trust); the interaction of alignment (i.e., focusing on shortterm results) with adaptation (i.e., creating new business opportunities in the long term) (Gibson & Birkinshaw, 2004); and the interaction of organizational diversity with a shared vision that creates the cultural context (Wang & Rafiq, 2014). In the Polish companies surveyed for this study, particular contextual variables were rated as high. When their impact on the choice of an ambidextrous strategy was considered separately from other strategic choices, no differences were noted. The vast majority of the management staff of companies operating in Poland recognized that the management systems and processes in their companies are consistent and flexible and create a context of high efficiency, creating opportunities for employees to perform well, giving them sufficient freedom to stimulate them to act creatively, regardless of the strategy pursued. Only the cultural context had a greater influence on the choice of an ambidextrous strategy, but taking into account the simultaneous impact of other interactions this was no longer relevant. Therefore, the behavioral context seen through the prism of the influence of its separate dimensions is not an antecedent to the choice of an ambidextrous strategy. It should be noted, however, that high values of these dimensions ensures the effective implementation of an ambidextrous strategy, as well as other strategies, as indicated by other researchers (Gibson & Birkinshaw, 2004; Simsek, 2009; Sok & O’Cass, 2015; Yigit, 2013).

The choice of an ambidextrous strategy depends on the size of the company. The larger the company, the more often exploration and exploitation activities were simultaneously pursued within a single product/ market domain. Similar conclusions were reached by Buyl, Boone, and Matthyssens (2012), Ebben and Johnson (2005), and Lubatkin et al. (2006). For Polish companies, the choice of an ambidextrous strategy did not depend on the age of the company, which was also confirmed in other studies (e.g., Siren, Kohtamaki, &C Kuckertz, 2012; Wulf, Stubner, & Blarr, 2010), but the results in this respect are rather ambiguous. Some researchers associate ambidextrous strategies with older companies (e.g., O’Reilly &C Tushman, 2013) and others to young entities (Martini, Nei- rotti, & Aloini, 2015).

Assuming that the size of an organization is, in a sense, also a contextual variable that determines the nature of processes and systems created in the organization, the total impact of the company’s size was checked together with the individual dimensions of the behavioral context. The context treated in this way proved to be a strong antecedent to the selection of an ambidextrous strategy, which is influenced by structural conditions, including structural differentiation, decentralization, and formalization of routine tasks. Thus, the results confirm the assumptions of other researchers about the interdependence and complementarity of structural and contextual conditions (Birkinshaw &C Gupta, 2013; Giittel & Konlechner, 2009; Schreyogg & Sydow, 2010), which allow for the realization of exploration and exploitation tasks—not only at the level of the organization as a whole but also at the micro-level—and the ability of an individual employee to behave in an ambidextrous way.

The organizational structure and context are not sufficient to effectively implement an ambidextrous strategy, and the literature indicates that they need to be supported by the skills of executives (e.g., Chang & Hughes, 2012; Mom, Van Den Bosch, & Volberda, 2009), ambidextrous leadership (e.g., Jansen, Vera, & Crossan, 2009; Lubatkin et al., 2006), and the attitude and actions of top management (Li, 2014; O’Reilly & Tushman, 2008; Turner, Swart, & Maylor, 2013). In the Polish context, only the aspect of dual leadership proved to be an important antecedent to the choice of ambidextrous strategy, strongly influenced by context and moderately influenced by structural factors. It consists of the interaction between open behavior—manifested in attitudes that encourage subordinates to experiment, openness, and tolerance—and closed behavior, promoting the values of productivity and efficiency, which allows managers to become ambidextrous leaders (Rosing, Frese, & Bausch, 2011) and to effectively implement an ambidextrous strategy. This is confirmed by the studies by Zacher and Rosing (2015) as well as by other researchers who have analyzed aspects of ambidextrous leadership from different perspectives and in the context of different leadership styles (e.g., Bratnicka, 2017; Keller &c Weibler, 2015; Li, Lin, &c Tien, 2015; Nemanich & Vera, 2009; Sarros, Cooper, &c Santora, 2008).

The choice of an ambidextrous strategy is therefore determined by a number of internal factors and its implementation brings specific benefits to the company. The research has shown that it contributes to the company’s performance, as expressed in financial and market terms, a finding which has also been confirmed in numerous other works (e.g., Alpkan & Gemici, 2016; Bierly &C Daly, 2007; Han &C Celly, 2008; He & Wong,

2004; Hill & Birkinshaw, 2014; Wang &C Li, 2008; Uotila et al., 2009). Although some researchers have not noticed a link between the concept of ambidexterity and business performance (Venkatraman, Lee, & Iyer, 2007; Vrontis et al., 2017), or have even indicated a negative association between them (Atuahene-Gima, 2005; Lavie, Kang, &C Rosenkopf, 2011), in Polish conditions, the choice and implementation of an ambidextrous strategy can lead to higher profitability, but above all an increase in market share, more customer loyalty and innovation, and the overall success of the company. It should be noted that this relationship is moderated by market orientation, as pointed out by previous researchers (e.g., Morgan & Berthon, 2008; §anal et al., 2013; Wei, Zhao, & Zhang, 2014). The impact of such a strategy was also confirmed in this study, with the advantage of proactive over reactive orientation yielding better results from the ambidextrous strategy than a balanced approach or a more reactive orientation. Similar conclusions were also reached by Wei, Zhao, and Zhang (2014).

The literature on the subject and the results of this study show that the ambidextrous strategy in its pure form, that is, simultaneously conducting exploration and exploitation activities within a given product/market domain, requires appropriate internal solutions within the company to bring the expected benefits. They constitute a set of conditions which are necessary for the effective implementation of an ambidextrous strategy. Companies that are unable to provide them should make other strategic choices to succeed in the market. Therefore, a set of recommendations for managers has been proposed, which determine under which circumstances an ambidextrous strategy is the best choice for companies operating in Poland, in order to ensure their financial and market success:

  • • the ambidextrous strategy is primarily aimed at medium- and largesized companies with the resources—including accumulated knowledge—that allow them to explore new markets and products while simultaneously exploiting existing ones in order to benefit from these activities;
  • • the ambidextrous strategy creates a resource interdependence between the various business units responsible for exploration and exploitation activities, which requires appropriate cooperation and communication between them;
  • • the effective implementation of an ambidextrous strategy requires an appropriate organizational structure, with a spatial separation of exploration and exploitation tasks, decentralization of decisions, and formalization—especially of routine tasks;
  • • the organizational solution must be supported by a high performance context that places an emphasis on productivity and social support, tolerance for diversity, a shared vision, and coherent and flexible management systems, processes, norms, and cultural values that create an environment for ambidextrous work at the level of the individual employee, as determined by the size of the company;
  • • implementation of an ambidextrous strategy requires ambidextrous leadership, that is, managers who are able to effectively encourage employees to carry out tasks in various ways, motivate them to take risks, and create space for the possibility of making mistakes— treating them as a chance to learn—and able to follow procedures for subordinates to perform their tasks, to control the quality of their work, and to monitor progress in achieving the goals which are set;
  • • the ambidextrous strategy requires a combination of rational and analytical activities with experimentation and searching for new market opportunities when it is established, as a result of which strategic objectives follow from well-thought-out decisions and from actions and decisions of managers at lower management levels;
  • • the implementation of an ambidextrous strategy is accompanied by better results when the company invests a larger pool of resources in strategic activities outside the existing product and market domains, focusing on the needs of customers which they are not yet aware of while also trying to satisfy the existing needs.

Taken together, these conditions will ensure the effective implementation of an ambidextrous strategy and contribute to better performance by increasing profits, returns on sales, assets, capital, and investment, as well as by increasing market share, customer loyalty, and innovation, thus enabling the company to succeed.

These results, from a sample population representative of the Polish market, and the recommendations for business practice based on them should help chief executives in making difficult strategic choices. It turns out that an ambidextrous strategy will not work in every company and in every situation, so this book provides new knowledge for management practitioners deciding on the direction of development and strategy of the company they manage under Polish conditions.

Conclusion

Companies operating in Poland make various strategic choices, deciding on strategies of exploration, exploitation, and ambidexterity. In particular, the latter—reconciling and pursuing opposing objectives—is indicated in the literature as a strategy that can bring a company success, with its pure form assuming simultaneous exploration and exploitation activities in the product and/or market domain. Such a strategy, as the results of this research show, yields better results under Polish conditions than other strategic choices. However, its effectiveness depends on the approach toward creating and implementing the strategy, intraorganizational factors, and the market orientation of the company. The impact of these antecedents was the basis for proposing managerial recommendations that can help senior executives decide on an ambidextrous strategy as a path for their businesses.

Notes

  • 1. The respondents assessed particular activities on a 7-point Likert scale of forced choice, where 1 meant that the company did not focus on this type of activity at all, 2 meant they did to a very low degree, 3 to a low degree, 4 to a somewhat low degree, 5 to a rather high degree, 6 to a high degree, and 7 to a very high degree.
  • 2. To balance both orientations, an error limit of +0.1 was adopted for the quotient from the mean grades.
  • 3. To balance both orientations, an error limit of +0.1 for the quotient from the mean grades was adopted.
 
Source
< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >