Do Retailers Really Profit from Ambidextrous Managers? The Impact of Frontline Mechanisms on New and Existing Product Selling Performance

Michel Van Der Borgh*, Jeroen J.L. Schepers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


When manufacturers introduce a new product to the market, downstream retail partners are faced with inherent trade‐offs. Retail sales personnel have to support the new product's introduction with substantial sales efforts but also sell the existing products in stock, before storage and devaluation costs spin out of control. This study shows how retail sales managers can guide sales personnel's performance of new and existing product selling, respectively. The authors argue that a manager may prioritize selling new products, existing products, or both (i.e., have an ambidextrous selling orientation). Based on data gathered from sales representatives and company databases of a large European consumer electronics retailer, the authors perform a time‐lagged partial least squares analysis to test empirically their conceptual model. The authors find that ambidextrous sales managers outperform their singular‐oriented counterparts if they properly align their orientation with a frontline management mechanism consisting of task autonomy, performance feedback, and employee age. More specifically, ambidextrous managers promote net profit obtainment if they grant their sales employees task autonomy and give little performance feedback. In addition, a remarkable finding is that older sales agents tend to outperform their younger counterparts when working under an ambidextrous manager. The authors discuss the implications of these findings.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Product Innovation Management
Pages (from-to)710-727
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

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