The Characteristics Of A CEO/Leader In An Ambidextrous Environment Thesis Proposal Example
In the field of Knowledge Management and Organizational Management, Organizational ambidexterity is one of the emerging research trends for a point to study. Different scholars and knowledgeable persons of management have tried to explain what organizational ambidexterity is. This could refer to the ability of any organization to deal with unorthodox demands. Such demands can be revolutionary and evolutionary change, low-cost strategy and differentiation (Birkinshaw & Gibson 47-55).
The two basic assumptions as followed by organizations in order to maintain Organizational ambidexterity are:
Relation between exploitation and exploration is perpendicular rather than parallel ends (Duncan 31-47).
The above stated two require different organizational time slabs and different structural follow-ups, but still can be completed under two domains in terms of knowledge (Duncan 31-47).
These days a lot of struggle is there for the survival of a company to maintain its profit sales and also for adapting new techniques.
The term Organizational ambidexterity was first used in the literature of Duncan in 1976. Ambidexterity gives rise to the use of both hands at a same particular instant of time (Duncan 31-47). Some of the earlier researches made on organization ambidexterity are discussed below. As per Duncan, companies’ must have dual organizational structures with two different approaches; one for developing of the innovation activities and other for implementing those activities.
Another concept of paradox of success was given by Tushman & O’Reilly in the year 1996. This concept defined ambidexterity as a skill and ability, which enhances an organization to deal with evolutionary changes and revolutionary changes simultaneously (Tushman, Smith, & Binns 89).
Porter (95-117) defined the concept, as the ability of an organization for long term benefits in development of products and technologies along with short term coordination with customers and profit making techniques. The advantage of ambidexterity is that a proper organizational performance is achieved along with the sustainable competitive advantage (O’Reilly & Tushman 74-81). Certain theories have also shown the negative aspects of the concept. A focus is also been made on the high cost used to achieve ambidexterity. Researchers have also said in their theories that the organizations will be more effective if their CEO’s or leaders are pushed to search for the new techniques keeping in mind the past too (Mom, van den Bosch, & Volberda 812-828).
If the companies want long term success then the organization must focus on exploiting the current capabilities and also explore the new techniques for future (Gibson & Birkinshaw 209-226). Optimizing current processes is very important, but besides staying strong in current markets, organizations have to open up their eyes and look what innovative opportunities they can exploit.
Modern ambidextrous organizations differ a lot from classic/conservative companies, and this is mainly because those modern ambidextrous organizations are founded by a typical entrepreneur who can be identified with specific personal characteristics. There have been researches carried out to find out the characteristics of the leaders that could help in achieving the desired performance for the organization (Gupta, Smith, & Shalley 693-706). But, as far as the concept of ambidextrous organizations are concerned, there is very little research done in this direction.
Hence, we need to fill this gap, by linking ambidexterity and the characteristics of the leaders in the organization. In this report, there will be personal characteristics of leaders identified that could help in creating organizational ambidexterity.
There has been a lot of literature about the good characteristics of leaders/ CEO’s to be in an ambidextrous environment. However, very little research focus has been made in the direction of ambidextrous organizations and the skills required by the leaders to manage their daily activities in such organizations. We need to thereby, focus upon the existing literature that discusses the personal characteristics of the leaders, so that we can link them up with our current research focus on ambidextrous organizations.
The important personal characteristics that have been identified and discussed so far in different literature sources are as follows:
An effective CEO must have its integrity and authenticity toward the ambidextrous environment. They must have a consistency of purpose, which require self reflection and acceptance of one self. This characteristic is important because it gives rise to the responsibility handled in an organization and also aims for maintaining the dignity and doing the function that they are intended for (Cao, Simsek, & Zhang 1272-1296).
Any company grows when the management thinks about their personals. They have to understand that nothing can be done without the help of their employees. Such caring towards their employees builds a sense of group identity. This characteristic is helpful in building the ambidextrous environment where the difficult tasks can be handled on a very easy note (Jansen et al. 797-811). Ambidextrous managers have a sense of maintain the relations among a group using new techniques of exploration and exploitation.
Many leaders inspire for hope even in worst conditions. Such leaders create energy in the group by reacting positively in any of the difficult situations. Positive motivation in the form of rewards, cash prizes, certificates of merit is also an effective tool for maintaining the ambidextrous environment (Rosing, Frese, & Bausch 956-974).
Effective leadership also focuses on the celebration of very small success where it is appropriate. Such motivational steps increases the employer retention rate and may also result in high profit sales. Special occasion parties from time to time provide the homework material which handling difficult situations and help the CEO’s to act in an ambidextrous manner in difficult situations (Tushman, Smith, & Binns 89).
Dictating a group about the work is important but rigidity sometimes destroys the moral of the employees. In other words, if the principals allow being flexible in a situation, the leaders must feel that the rules can be changed for the particular period of time. Flexibility in the rules is also very important for the managers to be ambidextrous (Porter 95-117).
In recent years there have been questions on how and what characteristics of CEO may lead by ambidextrous environment in the best possible manner. The conceptual work has been shown on a large scale to give evidence of organization ambidexterity. The initial attention was paid on the roles of leaders for such tasks (Porter 137-145). In the subsequent phase, the focus was shifted to the environmental factors to affect the interrelation between the motivators of organization and the employees (O’Reilly & Tushman 74-81).
Balancing the tension between exploration and exploitation activities is what ambidexterity is about. This can be very complex, because sometimes these activities are interwoven and cannot be separated. Due to this tension it is important that a leader can deal with those complex tensions. Some of the interrelated situations and circumstances in ambidextrous organizations are discussed below. It will help us to find a situation or a working environment, wherein a given leader or CEO needs to prepare him to face the challenges of such situations.
Differentiation and integration – Differentiation refers to exploitative and explorative activities being separated in an organization whereas integration refers to such techniques in an organization, which brings exploitation and exploration under the same roof (Mom, van den Bosch, & Volberda 812-828). Further progress may depend on better understanding of the two approaches.
Individual or organizational level – Ambidexterity is not limited to just an individual; it could also affect at the organizational level. Organizational mechanisms are required for such findings at individual level and ambidextrous personals, leaders and CEO’s will be vital for such mechanisms (Gupta, Smith, & Shalley 693-706).
Static versus dynamic prospective – On adoption of certain configurations, the organizations aim for a static view. While the dynamism of markets gives them a chance to grow and adopt new techniques, it also increases the chances of getting success for such organizations (Gibson & Birkinshaw 209-226).
Organic versus mechanistic – Organic organizational form can easily cope up with the rapid changes while the mechanistic organizations believe more on routine tasks and the stable environments (Floyd & Lane 154-177). Organic organizational forms have fewer instructions and less decision making authorities. Sometimes the organizations have to adopt both techniques simultaneously.
Effectiveness versus efficiency – Companies that need to be efficient have high levels of standardization, formulization and hierarchical staffs whereas flexibility is more dedicated towards the new goals and objectives (Duncan 31-47). In general for the goal of efficiency, mechanistic techniques and procedures are followed while for effectiveness and flexibility organic procedures are preferred.
Revolutionary versus evolutionary – An approach can be continuous in nature, which the leaders define as an evolutionary change while the other can be related to a radical change that replaces the olden techniques and procedures (Birkinshaw & Gibson 47-55).
Mom et al. has proved in his theory that it is possible to act in both disciplines although exploration and exploitation are two distinct factors. Despite of the fact that the leaders can manage in both the disciplines, still they can differ in what extent they are ambidextrous. Researchers have given an image of the ‘the ambidextrous CEO’ in his study, which says that, there are three different principals for an effective organizational ambidexterity. According to his theory the CEO’s can develop an ambidextrous environment in an organization by the creation of over aching identity, holding the situations at the top and embracing the inconsistency in work.
There are few characteristics that make a leader ambidextrous. There has been a lot of research regarding the managerial ambidexterity as to which characteristic is most beneficial for the environment. Before going to the depth, it is known that ambidextrous personals face many contradictions making them to face difficulty in decision making situations. This indicates that a manager has the ability to pursue a range of seemingly conflicting opportunities, needs and goals (Gibson & Birkinshaw 209-226).
Important features of ambidextrous CEO are that, he should be able to fulfill multiple roles and tasks. If the manager is from a particular background having a good knowledge, can help its employees on the work floor, thereby acting as a supervisor and instructor to a group of people. The last characteristic known from the previous researches is that leaders must be free to adapt new technologies, must be ready to renew their knowledge, must welcome he updated skills and expertise, must train the employees as per the present market skills to provide ambidextrous environment (O’Reilly & Tushman 74-81). If the above stated characteristics are seen in a leader, creating ambidextrous environment in organizations is not a difficult task. Thus, the research question for this research focuses upon:
RQ: ‘Which personal characteristics of a leader are required to create organizational ambidexterity?’
The personal characteristics of the leader, is the independent variable in this research question. There are a lot of personal characteristics possible, but in the interviews, there will be a focus on provoking some characteristics from prior research. In this research it is not about the ambidexterity on managerial level but it is about leader’s ambidexterity. The personal characteristics will refer to the managerial abilities, leadership skills, and communication skills on the basis of which, a given leader will be able to lead the organization (Porter 95-117).
Particularly, the article from Mom et al. about the managerial ambidexterity can be relevant to see which of those characteristics create organizational ambidexterity. Mom at el. focused on some important factors that indicate the level of ambidexterity. One of such factors is about the formal structural coordination mechanism followed at the organizations. His theory also suggests that such coordinating activities depict the level of ambidexterity (Mom, van den Bosch, & Volberda 812-828).
Such formats are developed by the leaders, which make them important for the research (Tushman, Smith, & Binns 89). The decision making authority and formulization of the leader’s task also affects the level of ambidexterity. Mom at el. also investigated about the personal coordination mechanism having an impact on managerial ambidexterity. In particular, the connectedness of a manager to other organization members can be related to the connectedness of a leader.
The ambidexterity in this research question is the dependent variable, and contextual ambidexterity is a hybrid way of integrating ambidexterity in the organization and differs from structural ambidexterity, because structural ambidexterity is used in dual organizations with one side focussing on exploration and on the other side focussing on exploitation. The answers obtained in the interviews and their analysis will help us to know particular set of characteristics required by the leaders in the ambidextrous organizations.
Because there is not much literature available about ambidexterity on the individual level, it would be better to do quantitative and qualitative research. A meta-analysis of the previous researches will help in analyzing the results obtained in those researches. On the other hand, the data will be collected by having interviews with few leaders/ CEO’s of different companies.
These will be shaped in such a manner that it ends up in a two way communication open at both the ends. A proper case study will be prepared of at least six leaders so that, we can find proper results in our research direction. We might relate the literature on ambidexterity on individual levels to come to a final conclusion. It might answer to our research question as well as help us in knowing to find out that, whether it is possible to segment ambidextrous leaders using their specific personal characteristics.
The hypotheses that will be formulated for this research are as follows:
A manager’s decision-making authority is positively related to this manager’s ambidexterity.
Participation in cross-functional interfaces by a manager is positively related to this manager’s ambidexterity.
Leaders learn, evolve and update their skills in the ambidextrous organizations to meet different challenges and achieve the objectives of the organization.
The research will be conducted and the results will be checked to find, whether they are statistically significant or not. The results will be also verified for the reliability and validity issues. The reliability will mean whether the results can be implemented practically in some organizations or not and validity will indicate the effectiveness of the output on leaders or CEO’s.
Describe themselves to be exploitative/explorative
Why they see themselves as exploitative/explorative
What kind of coordination mechanisms are being deployed in the organization and why?
With the help of the case study prepared of six different leaders, we will be in a proper position to answer to the research question. In addition, the selection of these six leaders will be made in six different SME organizations. These organizations might be dealing into different industries, different sectors, and different working environments. Hence, good results and conclusions can be expected from such a relevant-cross case analysis.
In the entire research, problem-solving approach will be applied so as to find the answer to our research question. As such no problem exists within the organization, but there is a need to find out a link between the leaders and CEOs and the ambidextrous organizations, wherein through their different skills and characteristics they are able to lead the organizations in a given competitive environment.
Birkinshaw, J., & C., Gibson, C. “Building ambidexterity into an organization.” MIT Sloan Management Review 45.4 (2004): 47-55.
Duncan, R. The ambidextrous organization: Designing dual structures for innovation. New York: North Holland, 1976. Print.
Floyd, S. W., & P. J. Lane. “Strategizing throughout the organization: Managing role conflict in strategic renewal.” Academic Management Review 25(2000): 154-177.
Gibson, C. B., & Birkinshaw, J. “The antecedents, consequences and mediating role of organizational ambidexterity.” Academy of Management Journal 47 (2004): 209-226.
Gupta, A. K., Smith, K. G., & Shalley, C. E. “The interplay between exploration and exploitation.” Academy of Management Journal, 4 (2006): 693-706
Mom, T. J. M., van den Bosch, F. A. J., & Volberda, H. W. “Understanding variation in managers' ambidexterity: Investigating direct and interaction effects of formal structural and personal coordination mechanisms.” Organization Science 20.4 (2009): 812-828.
O’Reilly, C. A., & M. L. Tushman. “The ambidextrous organization.” Harvard Business Review 8 (2004): 74-81.
Porter, M. E. “How competitive forces shape strategy.” Harvard Business Review 57.2 (1979): 137-145.
Porter, M. E. 1991. Towards a dynamic theory of strategy. Strategic Management Journal, 12: 95-117.
Tushman, M., W., Smith, & A., Binns. “The ambidextrous CEO.” Harvard Business Review (2011): 89.
Rosing, K., M., Frese, & A., Bausch. “Explaining the heterogeneity of the leadership-innovation relationship: Ambidextrous leadership.” The Leadership Quarterly 22 (2011): 956-974.
Jansen, J. J. P., M. P., Tempelaar, F. A., Van den Bosch, & H. W., Volberda. “Structural differentiation and ambidexterity: The mediating role of integration mechanisms.” Organization Science 20 (2009): 797-811.
Cao, Q., Z., Simsek, & H., Zhang. “Modelling the joint impact of the CEO and the TMT on organizational ambidexterity.” Journal of Management Studies 47 (2010): 1272-1296.
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