Deploying ambidexterity through better management practice: The case of High-Variety, Low-Volume Manufacturing

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, 2021, ahead-of-print, (ahead-of-print)
Issue Date:
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PurposeWhilst capabilities in exploiting existing assets and simultaneously exploring new opportunities have proven essential in today's organisations, an understanding of how these so-called ambidextrous capabilities are deployed remains elusive. Thus, the authors aim to investigate the role of better management practices (BMP), as organisational routines, in deploying ambidextrous capabilities in practice.Design/methodology/approachHigh-variety, low-volume (HVLV) manufacturers are adopted as exemplar ambidextrous organisations. A conceptual model was developed where BMP, including human resource management (HRM) and production planning and control (PPC), are considered as mediators in the relationship between ambidextrous capabilities and organisational performance outcomes. Partial least squares structural equation modelling was adopted to analyse the results of a survey undertaken by Australian HVLV manufacturers.FindingsThe results suggest that merely holding ambidextrous capabilities is not enough – demonstrating a fully mediating role of BMP between ambidextrous capabilities and HVLV manufacturer performance outcomes. However, the individual effects of PPC and HRM prove varied in their unique impact on HVLV manufacturer performance.Practical implicationsThis study also provides a rare account of how HVLV manufacturers can leverage their inherently ambidextrous design towards greater organisational performance and highlights critical considerations in the selection of organisational capabilities.Originality/valueBy exemplifying the explanatory power of BMP in ambidextrous capability deployment, this study moves beyond the more prevalent stance on the links between BMP and ambidextrous capabilities as that of capability building through management practices, to one concerning the deployment of the capability itself.
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