Should Functional Units Be Ambidextrous? Balancing Exploitation and Exploration in Sales Units

Vomberg, Arnd ; Mühlhäuser, Stephan ; Homburg, Christian

Document Type: Conference presentation
Year of publication: 2017
Conference title: Academy of Management Conference
Location of the conference venue: Atlanta, GA
Date of the conference: 04.-08.08.2017
Publication language: English
Institution: Business School > Empirische Forschungsmethoden (Juniorprofessur) (Vomberg 2014-2018)
Subject: 650 Management
Abstract: The concept of ambidexterity became prevalent in organizational research and led to the conviction that success depends on companies’ ability to orchestrate exploration and exploitation. Although generally scholars propose that ambidexterity represents a multi-level construct, most research to date has been conducted at the organizational level. In this study, the authors explore ambidexterity within a functional unit. Specifically, they focus on the functional sales unit and introduce sales system ambidexterity by the constructs of sales system stability (exploration) and sales system flexibility (exploration). In line with the ambidexterity hypothesis, an empirical analysis of a unique cross-sectional triadic dataset comprising manufacturers, channel partners, and supplementary archival data demonstrates that performance is highest when sales systems are both stable (exploitative) and flexible (explorative). In addition, the authors conduct contingency analyses and demonstrate conditions in which the ambidexterity hypothesis does not hold—i.e., situation in which managers should focus on either exploration or exploitation.

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