Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Top Management Team Diversity in Fostering Organizational Ambidexterity: Examining TMT Integration Mechanisms

Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Top Management Team Diversity in Fostering Organizational Ambidexterity: Examining TMT Integration Mechanisms

Article excerpt

Prior studies have argued that successful organizations are ambidextrous, which means they simultaneous pursue exploration and exploita- tion. Exploration implies activities characterized by variation, experimentation, flexibility, and innova- tion that involve the search for new organizational routines and the discovery of new approaches to technologies, businesses, processes, and products (March, 1991). By contrast, exploitation cap- tures activities such as refinement, efficiency, and improvement that succeed by reducing variance and increasing control and formalization (March, 1991). Both typically require fundamentally differ- ent and inconsistent architectures and competences that can create paradoxical challenges for achieving organizational ambidexterity (Benner & Tushman, 2003). Literature in this field has often focused on how to invest resources to balance exploration and exploitation (e.g., He & Wong, 2004) and has high- lighted and examined the link between organiza- tional ambidexterity and performance (Jansen, van den Bosch, & Volberda, 2006). However, studies examining factors that drive ambidexterity are scant.

Researchers (Beckman, 2006; Raisch & Birkinshaw, 2008) are now beginning to high- light the importance of top management teams (TMTs) fostering ambidexterity. Smith and Tushman (2005) argued that TMTs with diverse paradoxical cognitions can facilitate addressing paradoxical challenges to achieve organizational ambidexterity. Upper echelon theory argues that TMTs' idiosyncrasies determine their cognitive frames, which affects or enables conflicting inter- est reconciliation (Carpenter, Geletkanycz, & Sanders, 2004). However, empirical evidence examining the link between the 'design' or ' com- position' of TMT and organizational ambidexter- ity is scant. Following upper echelon theory, this paper assumes that composing a diverse TMT may provide diverse cognitive frames by which to help the team balance paradoxical demands resulting from organizational ambidexterity.

As the diversity of a TMT creates paradoxical cognitive frames, this diversity enhances the team's strategic planning capability (Henneke & Luthje, 2007), which, in turn, means that top managers are more likely to clarify the distinctive effects of exploration and exploitation and identify their syn- ergies, thus benefiting organizational ambidexter- ity. This paper further argues that TMT diversity fosters top executives' strategic planning capabil- ity, enabling them to overcome barriers associated with the pursuit of an ambidextrous organization. Prior studies also have indicated that heterogene- ity within a group may create intra-group con- flicts more easily. However, studies investigating whether such conflicts hinder top executives from reconciling paradoxical challenges such as build- ing ambidextrous organization are nonexistent. By examining the effects of TMT's intra-group conflicts, this paper explores whether the dark side of TMT heterogeneity impedes ambidexterity. Another important issue in this study is effectively controlling the negative effects of team diversity in intra-group conflicts to achieve ambidexterity. This paper argues that the key to reinforcing the benefits of TMT diversity and overcoming its defects may be ensuing a more collaborative integration process between senior managers, whereby they can effec- tively manage inconsistent alignments. Therefore, this study addresses how a senior team integra- tion mechanism contributes to the effectiveness of managing TMT diversity benefits and defects for achieving organizational ambidexterity.

This study adds to the emergent dialog on ambidexterity in two ways. First, it contributes to the debate on the inherent value of TMT diver- sity and its relationship to organizational ambi- dexterity. For instance, prior research has shown a positive link between founding teams with diverse company affiliations and ambidexterity (Beckman, 2006). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.