Loughborough University
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The impact of employee ambidexterity on organisational and marketing innovations: organisational context for exploiting the present and exploring for the future

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posted on 2013-06-24, 10:34 authored by Oluseyi M. Ajayi
Research studies on innovation tend to focus more on Process and Product Innovations (PPIs), while both Organisational and Marketing Innovations (OMIs) have been under-researched. The lack of prior research on these non-technological innovations has been attributed to poor data availability. Theoretical opinions show that OMIs could be necessary prerequisites needed to optimally utilise and deploy these PPIs. Organisational Ambidexterity (OA) has emerged to be crucial in achieving long-term organisational success. Ambidexterity in an organisational context refers to the ability to concurrently exploit current competitive advantage and explore new opportunities with equal dexterity. For firms to remain competitive and adaptive to continuous change in the business environment, OA has been noted as a necessary attribute, but research on ambidexterity at the individual level of analysis is limited. There is a lack of understanding of how individual ambidexterity at the lower-levels of the organisation affects the overall ambidexterity of the organisation. This research explores organisational context antecedents of OMIs capabilities; Organisational and Employee Ambidexterity, and identifies how individual employees in Small and Medium-sized Manufacturing and Service Organisations could contribute to the capability of their organisation to concurrently exploit present market opportunities and explore new opportunities, towards sustaining their competitive advantage. This study involves a two-phase sequential mixed methods design beginning with a qualitative exploratory research involving 15 in-depth Nigerian-based interviews. The first phase facilitated preliminary assessment of organisational context, measured by the Cameron and Quinn’s Organisational Culture Assessment Instrument. This phase also aided the understanding of factors that promote OMIs capabilities and the development of themes used to design the survey instrument for the second phase. The second phase involved a quantitative study of 398 shop-floor and 202 managerial staff from Small and Medium-sized Nigerian Manufacturing and Service Organisations. This phase was characterised by descriptive and inferential statistics through Structural Equation Modelling. This aided identifying the organisational context that promotes Employee Ambidexterity (EA) and the relationships between EA; OA; and OMIs’ capabilities. vi Drawing upon information-rich evidence, this study identified enablers that could promote EA; OA; OMIs; effective innovations; and sustainable organisational growth. Statistical evidence from the research findings shows that Organic Structure and Knowledge Sharing, plus a Flexible and Family-like Organisational Culture: 1. enhances Employee Ambidexterity and Level of Engagement; 2. improves employees’ contributions to OA, OMIs and SMEs’ growth; 3. optimises the internal capabilities of SMEs in order to promote their sustainable growth; 4. enables SMEs to search for new market opportunities and strengthen current market positions concurrently; and 5. promotes viable Manufacturing and Service SMEs that are needed to offset the prevalent public sector job losses. A framework that relates: Individual and Organisational Ambidexterity; Organisational and Marketing Innovations capabilities; and Organisational Performance, has been identified in this study. While Marketing Innovation capability and Exploitative Orientation of Ambidexterity target the short term organisational benefits, Organisational Innovation capability and Explorative Orientation of Ambidexterity address the long term competitive advantage of the organisations. Besides advancing literature on the study of Organisational Ambidexterity by combining the individual level of analysis with the organisational level of analysis, this study identifies frameworks that promote effective innovation and sustainable organisational performance through shop floor employees’ contributions to Organisational Ambidexterity and OMIs in SMEs. Outcomes of this research have been eye-openers for the case organisations on how to optimally utilise their resources (people, materials, knowledge, technology and other assets) to achieve sustainable growth and long term success.


Innovative Manufacturing and Construction Research Centre



  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering


© O.M. Ajayi

Publication date



A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.