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Anticipating the future – An ambidextrous view of the Dutch telecom sector

By J.E. Oskam

Abstract

This thesis investigates the influence of three antecedents of ambidexterity: 1) structural differentiation, 2) leadership processes and 3) organizational context on ambidexterity and firm performance. Based on the theories of ambidexterity –the balancing between a firm’s exploration and exploitation activities- and decision-making, this research made use of a novel conceptual model to find an answer to how the three antecedents influence ambidexterity and firm performance in the Dutch telecom sector. This novel approach is established by distinguishing multiple organizational levels at which the balancing of exploitation and exploration activities can take place. It is here that this thesis contributes to existing literature; by placing the three antecedents over multiple decision-making levels within an organization, the effect of a combination of the three antecedents on ambidexterity and firm performance is analyzed within one study. A case study approach was used. In total eight firms, four Mobile Network Operators (MNO’s), two Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO’s) and two cable companies, were analyzed side-by-side. Within the eight firms a total of 20 interviews were held, which afterwards were analyzed using selective coding. Through the use of a pattern matching logic patterns were analyzed within the data and the influence of the three antecedents on ambidexterity and firm performance was determined. The most notable finding shows the first antecedent, structural differentiation, influences ambidexterity by influencing a telecom firm’s exploitation activity rather than its exploration activity as existing literature suggests. The findings showed a telecom firm’s exploitation activities were negatively affected when a telecom firm did not separate at least part of its exploration activities outside its existing business units. The effect of exploitation on a firm’s efficient performance – the measurement for a firm’s exploitation performance – was however a negative one, i.e. a lower exploitation led to a higher efficient performance. The findings also show the second antecedent, leadership processes, had no influence on ambidexterity or (indirectly) on firm performance. Lastly, the findings for the third antecedent, organizational context, show a potential positive influence on exploration, i.e. when a firm’s organizational context improves it has the potential to positively influence a firm’s exploration while not implying it will. The effect of exploration on a firm’s effective performance – the measurement for a firm’s exploration performance – was furthermore positive too. As these findings are partly contradictory to existing literature, additional research is necessary to confirm these findings

Topics: Ambidexterity; exploration; exploitation; telecom sector; ICT
Year: 2014
OAI identifier: oai:dspace.library.uu.nl:1874/301325
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