Theses and Dissertations - UTB/UTPA

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Jorge Gonzalez

Second Advisor

Dr. John Sargent

Third Advisor

Dr. Sibin Wu


This dissertation research examines organizational ambidexterity (OA)–a concept first introduced in organizational learning literature and conceptualized as an interaction between exploration and exploitation–and its relationships with a managerial antecedent and an organizational outcome in the context of small businesses. Drawing on strategic choice and upper echelons theory, the present study suggests that top management team (TMT) behavioral integration plays a critical role in managing the interaction between exploration and exploitation. Specifically, this research proposes a positive association between TMT behavioral integration and OA. Furthermore, it suggests that small firms manage the interaction between exploration and exploitation differently depending on their entrepreneurial nature. Compared with conservative organizations, firms with high levels of entrepreneurial orientation (EO) are more likely to consider exploration and exploitation as separate (but related) options (the combined dimension of OA). On the other hand, conservative (low-EO) firms are tend to focus more on the notion that exploration and exploitation are two ends of a continuum (the balance dimension of OA), compared with high-EO counterparts. Investigating the effect of OA on firm performance, the present study proposes that while the combined dimension of OA has a positive relationship with organizational performance, the OA balance dimension have an inverted U-shaped relationship with firm performance. Data from 185 TMT members of 82 small firms in Texas and Pennsylvania strongly supported the positive association between TMT behavioral integration, combined dimension of OA, and firm performance. Supportive evidence of an inverted U-shaped relationship between the balance dimension of OA and organizational performance was also found. However, the moderating effect of EO on the relationship between TMT behavioral integration and OA was not detected. This study has significant contributions to the literature by shedding more light on the construct of OA and its relationship with important antecedents and consequences. It also reveals opportunities to attain new insights into the relationship between EO and organizational performance, which has been largely debated in entrepreneurship literature.


Copyright 2013 Huy Q. Tran. All Rights Reserved.

Granting Institution

University of Texas-Pan American