Mastering change through innovative initiatives: Contextual ambidexterity as a process
Doctoral thesis, 2019
This thesis focuses on how innovative work, driven within an established organization, can be a component for mastering change in a contemporary context. This issue has been widely addressed; however, clear solutions have not yet been obtained, in either practice or theory. Theoretically, this study seeks to understand this question using literature primarily on ambidexterity and organizational change. Empirically, it draws on action research in close collaboration with established organizations.
Driving innovative work in established organizations requires sensitivity toward the need to relate explorative work to the current model. Being ambidextrous is increasingly seen as a necessary organizational capability to meet the challenges of a fast-paced world. Previous research emphasizes how ambidexterity could be achieved, but it focuses less on how an ambidextrous organization relates to the overall organizational change journey. Traditional models for change typically do not consider the need for ambidexterity. These models have also recently been criticized for not incorporating the implications of a fast-paced environment, such as speed, polyphony, and innovation. Still, literature on change is an important field for providing insights about the issue at hand in this thesis.
This thesis is based on five papers: four drawing primarily on action research and one conceptual paper. The findings in these papers provide empirical insights from organizations in the midst of their change journeys, all attempting to solve the ambidexterity problem contextually. These papers, together with relevant literature, lead this thesis into a discussion wherein I propose a) how to design explorative work on contextual ambidexterity, b) how to lead such work, and c) how a contextually ambidextrous organization could be connected to a change journey.
With this thesis, I attempt to contribute to literature on change by suggesting innovative initiatives as an important component. Moreover, this thesis aims to reconceptualize contextual ambidexterity and consider it more as a system change process than an end state. This thesis finishes by proposing a framework for how innovative initiatives could be a component for mastering change in contextually ambidextrous organizations.
Change models, System change