The achievement of ambidexterity is success-critical for an ISD team because it translates into a vital balance between exploration and exploitation. Yet, having this balance is challenging because the ISD team has only limited time and attention to commit to satisfying the needs of exploration and exploitation. Prior research suggests a combination of the traditional – waterfall ISD method – with the agile ISD method to achieve the balance of explore and exploit and thus to be ambidextrous. However, the combination approach does not work for ISD teams that want to avoid using practices from the traditional ISD method and seek to stay within the agile ISD method only. The literature is silent on how an ISD team can achieve ambidexterity under these conditions. We draw on the literature on ambidexterity and use a theoretical framework of four types of ambidexterity to gain a better understanding of how ISD teams balance exploration and exploitation in order to be ambidextrous. In a qualitative case study, we examine how the ISD team masters the achievement of ‘agile’ ambidexterity. Our key theoretical contribution is a deeper theoretical understanding on the achievement of four types of ambidexterity that range from the individual to the organization and encompass bottom-up/emergent and top-down/management approaches. The practical implications of the research are relevant for organizations and managers concerning how the types and levels of ambidexterity might be managed, both separately and collectively.
Guest speaker: Matook Sabine, Ass. Prof. from University of Queensland