Original Research

Enabling organisational ambidexterity: A leadership perspective

Liezl Bell, Karl Hofmeyr
South African Journal of Business Management | Vol 52, No 1 | a2268 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajbm.v52i1.2268 | © 2021 Liezl Bell, Karl Hofmeyr | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 July 2020 | Published: 02 June 2021

About the author(s)

Liezl Bell, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, Johannesburg, South Africa
Karl Hofmeyr, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Purpose: Innovation implies change that causes disruption. Ambidexterity is required to balance disruption and change with the counter side, stability, to enhance efficiency. This study set out to understand how the leadership of an organisation can ensure a focus simultaneously an explore logic, required for innovation, and the exploit functions that are needed for efficiency.

Design/methodology/approach: This research sought to shed new light on how leaders manage the structural changes required within an organisation to support ambidexterity. It fits into the inductive research approach. A qualitative, exploratory study through semi-structured interviews was completed to enhance the understanding of this understudied phenomenon.

Findings/results: The research builds on the current understanding of ambidexterity, different operating models, integration mechanisms and possible organisational structure to enable simultaneously explore and exploit. Respondents were able to suggest how organisations can utilise the ambidexterity continuum as a vehicle to understand the current organisational change logic and required future strategy.

Practical implications: Based on the research findings, a model was conceptualised, which included the leadership capabilities required to deal with both existing core business and new venture processes and structures, as well as the integration of these disparate elements.

Originality/value: The literature is not clear as to how leaders engender the changes required within the structure of organisations to enable ambidexterity. The research provides a framework that describes how organisations can balance the explore and exploit functions concurrently, as well as leadership capabilities required to achieve this.


Keywords

ambidextrous organisation; leadership capabilities; organisational structure; organisational change; explore and exploit functions.

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