Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Rojas-Córdova C., Pertuzé J.A., Williamson A.J., Leatherbee M. (2022)

More structure or better social practices? Using a contingency lens to address ambidexterity gaps in innovative SMEs

Revista : International Journal of Emerging Markets
Tipo de publicación : ISI Ir a publicación


PurposeEnvironmental uncertainty (EU) and firm size (FS) generate inertial forces that can push small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to emphasize either exploration or exploitation. In this article, the authors explore how structural (e.g. formal processes, control and discipline) and social (e.g. employee support and decision-making involvement) managerial instruments counteract such inertial forces and enable SME ambidexterity. Building on the organization-context literature, the authors propose a model in which EU and firms’ size moderate the relationship between structural and social managerial instruments on SME ambidexterity.Design/methodology/approachThe authors examined a moderation model using surveys of chief executive officers (CEOs) and performance archival data from 237 Chilean SMEs.FindingsThe authors find that the positive effect of structure on SME ambidexterity decreases with FS. In contrast, social instruments have a positive effect on ambidexterity for larger firms, especially for those operating in uncertain environments. In cases in which EU and firms’ size reinforce the exploration or exploitation tendencies of SMEs, structural and social instruments play a complementary role in achieving ambidexterity.Originality/valueThe authors contribute by proposing a contingent mix of structural and social instruments to enable SME ambidexterity. These results inform policymakers and SME managers by suggesting strategies to promote ambidexterity based on firms’ size and EU.