Effects of Automation Processes on Ambidexterity - A case study of the effects of automation processes on efficiency and innovation within the IT department of a high-tech multinational enterprise
More and more organisations are adopting automation business processes to facilitate work, be more efficient, and let workers do more value-creating and complex tasks. Being able to exploit (efficient) and explore (innovate) simultaneously is defined as ambidexterity and leads to successful organisations. However, the trade-off between exploitation and exploration is challenging to master. It is easy to prioritise and plan for one activity only, which many organisations do. Ambidexterity is not well introduced to organisations yet and is quite an unknown area for many. In addition, research about the effects of automation on ambidexterity is not well presented in the literature or within the case company. It is, therefore, an interesting area of research. The following research aims to study the effects of automation processes on ambidexterity in the IT department of the case company. But also to investigate how to achieve ambidexterity through the adoption of automation processes. The research considers literature that includes ambidexterity, automation business processes and the effect of automation on efficiency or innovation. Moreover, primary data were collected through 14 interviews made with developers, experts and managers within the IT department of the case company. In addition, a thematic analysis was done where first- and second-order codes were identified, followed by three themes. Finally, the study findings demonstrate the positive effects of automation on efficiency regarding resource release, savings, and quality enhancement. On the other hand, the organisations' lack of planning makes them less efficient. Further, no positive effects on innovation have been found. The negative impact on innovation consists of a lack of financial resources, resistance and organisational mindset, lack of transformation, and security and rigidity. Ultimately, the effect of automation results in negative effects on ambidexterity due to an imbalance because of a high focus on efficiency and non-prioritised exploration. Released time is being used to exploit and to be more efficient. In conclusion, managerial recommendations and a model have been proposed to make automation efforts result in a better balance of efficiency and innovation, i.e. ambidexterity.
MSc in Knowledge-Based Entrepreneurship