South Africa’s manufacturing performance relative to its’ peers and other local sectors has been in decline in the wake of globalisation and global value chains and reduced competitive advantage. Firms are central actors in the competitive advantage of competing value chains. In order to achieve and sustain competitive advantage firms, and especially manufacturing firms, have to continuously explore new market possibilities while at the same time leveraging existing competencies in an exploitative fashion. When firms pursue explore and exploit in combination the firms can be described as being ambidextrous organisations. When it is left up to individual employees of these firms to contribute to ambidexterity by deciding when to explore and when to exploit, and they are able to do this in combination, the individuals achieve what is termed individual ambidexterity. Although it is known that individual ambidexterity contributes to organisational ambidexterity, very little is known about the manner in which individuals achieve individual ambidexterity and what the outcomes of individual ambidexterity are. The current research project sought to gain a deep understanding of individual product designers’ lived experience of achieving ambidextrous outcomes in the normal course of their work in the earthmoving machinery manufacturing sector. A qualitative, exploratory research design was adopted and thirteen semi-structured interviews conducted with individual product designers. The interviews were analysed through thematic analysis to yield rich findings as reported here-in. Key findings reported relate to the key role managers and the individual’s own knowledge play in achieving individual ambidexterity, while the reported negative outcomes of individual ambidexterity are a key contribution to individual ambidexterity literature. As part of the analysis process a model was devised that allows for the identification of potential virtuous and vicious cycles of individual ambidexterity. Implications for stakeholders and the contribution to literature are also addressed.
Mini Dissertation (MBA)--University of Pretoria, 2021.