Ambidextrous design and public organizations : a comparative case studyAmbidextrous design and public organizations : a comparative case study
Faculty of Applied Economics
International journal of public sector management. -
University of Antwerp
Purpose The main goal of this paper is to explore how public cultural organizations use ambidextrous design to balance exploitation and exploration given their organizational structure that mainly stimulates exploitation. Design/methodology/approach We use an abductive methodology and, perform an in-depth comparative case study. Our data sample consists of two Belgian public cultural centers located in the Flemish area. 21 semi-structured interviews where analyzed using Nvivo. Findings Results show, first, that although both cases have the same formal organization chart, their informal structure differs. Second, both cases have a different point of view towards exploitation and exploration. Third, no pure ambidextrous designs were found. Finally, we formulate theoretical propositions for ambidexterity and public sector research. Research limitations/implications Limitations of this paper are threefold. First, we only compared two cases, so generalization of our findings is limited. Second, although we managed to make contributions to ambidexterity and public sector research, theory building is not finished. Finally, researchers have to improve empirical evidence focusing on which design elements lead towards ambidextrous public organizations. Originality/value This paper makes a threefold contribution to ambidexterity literature and public sector research. First, our focus on public sector organizations is a rarely taken approach in ambidexterity research. Second, the specific use of ambidextrous design attributes to the limited public sector research that has focused on ambidexterity. Third, our focus on small organizations with limited resources is a rarely taken focus in ambidexterity and public sector research.