How Innovative and Ambidextrous are Individuals by using their Personal Characteristics?

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Scholars are heavily focusing on investigating organizational ambidexterity as the driver for high performing firms. However, surprisingly little research is conducted towards individual ambidexterity and its role within small- and medium-sized firms. This study investigates the interrelatedness between one’s personal characteristics (self-efficacy and cognitive flexibility), ambidextrous behavior and innovative performance within high-tech SMEs. Quantitative research amongst 100 Dutch-based non-managerial employees is analyzed via a multiple regression analysis with a mediation effect to explain the interrelatedness between the factors at the individual level. The results showed that the non-managerial employees’ personal characteristics do not predict ambidextrous behavior but are significantly related to innovative performance. Moreover, ambidexterity at the individual level is actively contributing to an increased level of innovative performance, for which the expected mediation effect from individual ambidexterity between one’s personal characteristics and innovative performance does not play a role. Hence, employees who can balance explorative and exploitative activities during their daily job and employees who are innately self-efficient and cognitive flexible are performing better regarding innovations. Moreover, one’s educational background positively predicts the innovative performance level; therefore, it is concluded that higher levels of innovative performance require a higher-educated background. With this new knowledge, managers within High-Tech SMEs must learn about their employees and employ the self-efficient, cognitive flexible and ambidextrous employees on the functions that require innovative outcomes to achieve higher levels of performance within the SME.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen