Further Studies on Ambidexterity: Advancing a Sociological Perspective on Convergence, Divergence, and Identity in Multinational Firms
01 / 2011 - 01 / 2015
The present work is intended to throw light on the effect of hidden, intimate organizational mechanisms on the sustainability of firm performance. We suggest that the identity configurations in place in the firm have important implications on the capability of the organization to remain vital and responsive in the face of turning contextual conditions. Theoretically grounded in the social perspective on the organization, where cognition and action are seen as dominated by affiliations to social categories, and in the literature on strategic change and innovation, this dissertation attempts to build a comprehensive picture of why and how identity in organization matters, and which characteristics of the essence of a firm are conducive or dangerous for its long term viability. Our model addresses the implications of identity constructs (organizational identity strength and organizational identification) on the firm s exploitative and exploratory activities, and the moderating effect of organizational culture and leadership style. Two separate projects empirically test the model through the analysis of both quantitative data (e.g., from a nation-wide survey, and large-scale, within-firm survey) and qualitative data (e.g., from executive interviews, participant observation, documental analysis). The research questions underlying this work have important bearings on both practice and research. For what concerns the first point, this research provides some answers to executives and stakeholders increasingly concerned with Western firms weak capability to renew themselves. Because we study characteristics that are at least partly dependent on managerial action (i.e., organizational identity strength, organizational culture, and leadership style), the present dissertation offers insights upon which concrete actions can be taken to correct the balance between convergent and divergent behavior in organizational settings. The academic value of this work resides in the fact that it contributes to the debate on the forces that discriminately drive or hinder exploratory and exploitative initiatives. It therefore adds to the theoretical developments on ambidexterity, strategic renewal, and organizational innovation. Further, through the analysis of the interplay between identity, identification, and culture, it supports the advancement of sociological perspectives on the firm. Finally, the study on the effect of leadership characteristics on development paths of organizations contributes to the literature on the connection between leadership traits and performance outcomes.