Supply Chain Ambidexterity (SCX)

Mehmet Gokhan Yalcin, University of Rhode Island


Dualities among various strategies that firms can pursue may create operational tensions (Adler et al. 2009) that exist between short-term efficiency and long-term adaptability (Abernathy 1978). These seemingly irreconcilable tensions are what managers must routinely deal with, which Adler et al. (2009) says creates a dilemma. In the context of operations and supply chain (SC) this dilemma is somewhat addressed by ambidextrous SC strategy which is defined and measured through the simultaneous practice of exploitative and explorative activities (Kristal et al. 2010). However the problem is while literature shows anecdotally that ambidexterity can provide benefits, Birkinshaw and Gupta (2013) suggest ambidexterity is only an academic concept that is not used in industry. This study examines the relevance of SC and ambidexterity though the lens of Ambidexterity Theory (AT). This provides the conceptual basis to examine how two existing concepts of SC integration (SCI) and SC agility (SCA), that have been applied in industry, together may lead to SC ambidexterity (SCX). This paper incorporates interviews with ten high level managers and academics and posits that the SC activities that lead to greater SCI and SCA are also antecedents to SCX which means that it not only is applicable to the literature, but also to industry. ^ To be useful to the literature and practitioners, contemporary research emphasizes the need to generate operational models from the proposed conceptual models (Goldsby and Zinn 2016). This involves theory-testing. The purpose of this study is also to empirically test the SCX model in a large survey study. Based on 299 respondents in manufacturing settings, the proposed SCX model is tested by analyzing the data with SEM (Jöreskog, 1969). The results suggest the SCX model is sufficient to explain the dynamic between SCI and SCA. The findings also suggest that although AT explains SCX, it is more than an academic construct, and explains industry phenomena explaining practitioners may create and manage SCX. This study helps clarify the confusion over deciding which supply chain activities are exploitative and which ones are explorative. Since SCI and SCA are well-established constructs, the support from SCX extends the literature through theory-testing.^

Subject Area

Business administration|Management|Organizational behavior

Recommended Citation

Mehmet Gokhan Yalcin, "Supply Chain Ambidexterity (SCX)" (2017). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI10288080.