Date of Award

Spring 4-9-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Executive Doctorate in Business (EDB)

Department

Business

First Advisor

Pam Scholder Ellen

Second Advisor

Lars Mathiassen

Third Advisor

Deborah Butler

Abstract

Business organizations rely on exploitation and efficiency to provide short-term results and on exploration and innovation for their future viability. The ability to simultaneously exploit and explore has been termed organizational ambidexterity. Front-line managers who are able to encourage both exploitation and exploration from their employees should therefore be quite successful, but this is not an easy task. Managerial interventions seek to align the employees’ interests with the manager’s interests and therefore can be perceived as more controlling than enabling, thereby negatively impacting ambidexterity. This case study uses agency theory as a theoretical lens to understand managerial interventions that could focus attention on individual employees’ actions that are both exploitative and explorative in an enabling fashion to allow for success. The study advances managerial practice, addresses gaps in the literature on ambidexterity, and advocates development of a new management theory by recommending that managers focus their interactions into three sets of tasks, 1) those that connect the employee to the organization, 2) those that connect the manager to the employee, and 3) those that enable the employee to go forward and own their decisions, within these connections. We argue, this combination of interventions work together to encourage an environment of both exploitation and exploration, or contextual ambidexterity, with the opportunity to be successful in both the short-term and into the future.

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