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Ambidexterity at the Individual Level in Small to Medium-Sized Technical Consulting Firms: A Case Study Based on Technical Consultants’ Perspectives about how to Successfully Balance Exploitation and Exploration
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (professional degree), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Prior literature highlights the increasing importance of technical consulting firms for innovation as companies are outsourcing more of their development activities. In order to remain competitive and innovative it is necessary for technical consulting firms to adapt to market changes by ambidextrously focusing on finding a balance between exploiting existing advantages and simultaneously exploring new knowledge. In practice it is the technical consultants whose responsibility it is to balance exploitative and explorative activities to deliver valuable knowledge to the customers. However, literature in this area have mostly discussed this challenge from an organisation’s and/or a manager's point of view, and thus failed to account for the factors that affect individuals to achieve a balance of these activities. To address this challenge, the purpose of this research was to enhance the understanding of how technical consultants successfully can balance exploitation and exploration within small to medium-sized technical consulting firms.In order to fulfil the purpose, this research relied on a single case study with a holistic design at a technical consulting firm. The case organisation was selected due to their organisational structure and vision to become more innovative. In total, 27 interviews were conducted during three waves. Furthermore, participant observations were used in order to confirm the empirical findings.Hence, this research contributes to the existing literature by providing a new perspective to this problem. Additionally, the result indicates that an awareness of the hindering factors (e.g. lacking guidelines on how to work with exploitative and explorative activities) and the facilitating factors (e.g. prioritise knowledge sharing) will improve the consultants’ chance to balance, as they will know what factors to embrace and what factors to avoid. This research also presents a framework with four types of consultants who exhibit different behaviours in terms of balancing exploitation and exploration: “Ambidextrous innovators”, “Worker bees”, “Knowledge seekers” and “Knowledgerefiners”. Moreover, the framework also indicates projects that are suitable for the identified consultant types.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 55 p.
Keyword [en]
Social Behaviour Law, Ambidexterity, Contextual ambidexterity, Exploitation and exploration, Individuals, Innovation, Project-based organisations, SME, Technical consulting firms
Keyword [sv]
Samhälls-, beteendevetenskap, juridik
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-45299Local ID: 3016cc79-c999-47d8-8465-185ebe5d5731OAI: diva2:1018586
Subject / course
Student thesis, at least 30 credits
Educational program
Industrial and Management Engineering, master's level
Validerat; 20160619 (global_studentproject_submitter)Available from: 2016-10-04 Created: 2016-10-04Bibliographically approved

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