Operationalising ambidexterity: The role of 'better' management practices in high-variety, low-volume manufacturing

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
PICMET 2019 - Portland International Conference on Management of Engineering and Technology: Technology Management in the World of Intelligent Systems, Proceedings, 2019
Issue Date:
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© 2019 PICMET. Innovation and change are fundamental to the long-term sustainability of any organisation. Whilst it is important to improve operating efficiency in the bid to become more cost competitive, there is still an underlying need to venture out of the norm and explore new opportunities. Though a great deal of research has emerged regarding the achievement of ambidexterity, there remains a gap in understanding how this is actually operationalised in organisations. This paper takes aim at this problem in the context of SME manufacturers that produce a high variety of customised products at low volumes (HVLV). Under such circumstances, ambidexterity appears intuitively easier to achieve given the manufacturer is designed to be as flexible as possible in the first place - though, it would seem this may be to their detriment. Based on a literature review and drawing from ambidexterity and organisational theory, our contribution is geared towards investigating the underlying mechanisms that make HVLV manufacturers ambidextrous in the first place. In particular, we concern ourselves with exploring how ambidexterity is enacted through what are deemed 'better' management practices that result in innovative organisations. By better understanding the more latent characteristics of HVLV manufacturers, we shed some light on the interactions between external and internal influences affecting the impact of ambidexterity under such an environment. Further theoretical and managerial implications are discussed.
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