The challenges encountered by the managers of exploratory units in structurally ambidextrous organizations : a comparative case study
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- Master Thesis 
In this comparative case study, we explore the challenges encountered by the managers of exploratory units in three structurally ambidextrous companies, and how these challenges are handled. We review existing literature on organizational ambidexterity in combination with insights from innovation management tools and theories of entrepreneurial orientation. Following, we have conducted interviews in three companies, which all have established organizational ambidexterity as a response to changes in their environment. Organizational ambidexterity induces several challenges for the companies that choose to adopt it. While the challenges for the top management in structurally ambidextrous companies are well known, there is little knowledge on what challenges managers of the exploratory unit encounter. Nevertheless, the contradicting demands that arise in ambidextrous organizations are likely to affect also the latter. Our main findings demonstrate that the managers of exploratory units indeed encounter challenges when delivering innovation. The key challenges include areas such as lack of resources and tolerance for failure, tension between units, uncertainty, risk aversion, resistance to change, short-term focus. In addition, we find that a recurring set of beliefs among the managers of exploratory units include the notion that the success of innovation is highly dependent on trust from top management and an optimal balance between autonomy and attention. We further observe that in order to handle the challenges, the managers of exploratory units rely on various alternative innovation management tools, adapt elements of entrepreneurial orientation and collaborate with external parties. These tools appear to allow the exploratory unit to continue delivering innovation, also when challenges are significant. When and to what degree these methods are applied differs between the cases. These findings are relevant for practitioners attempting to manage exploratory units and deliver innovation projects in ambidextrous organizations, by highlighting the anticipated challenges and tools used to handle them.