Evaluating Organizational Ambidexterity in the Smartphone Industry: The Case of Apple Inc.

Rena El-Hajjibrahim

Student thesis: Master thesis


In today’s fast evolving world of technology, it has become increasingly important to pursue a balance of the paradox of exploitative and explorative innovation. The list of great innovative companies that have undermined such a balance and thus been toppled by newcomers who gained foothold in the market by being disruptive, is long and has for some companies worked as a lesson and for others not. Scholars such as Caspin-Wagner, Ellis & Tishler, (2012), Han & Celly (2008), Phene, Tallman & Almeida (2012), Tushman, Smith, Wood, Westerman & O’Reilly (2010), and Hill & Birkinshaw (2010) have examined the relationship between organizational ambidexterity and sales growth, innovation and a firm’s survival (O'Reilly & Tushman, 2013). The phenomenon of disruptive innovation as being a key component of organizational ambidexterity has also been increasingly examined. Scholars such as Hang, Chen & Yu (2011) have developed a framework that covers the most important and holistic success factors for disruptive innovation. However, a practical way of indicating how ambidextrous a certain company is, is still missing. This gap was thus partly filled by developing a framework that works as a first step towards evaluating the ambidexterity of a company operating in the smartphone industry. The framework was applied on Apple Inc. as a case company and the analysis suggested that the persuasion of explorative innovation is key to a company’s ambidexterity. Furthermore, the company’s smartphone’s technology diffusion and performance improvement trajectories, market share, and customer opinion were found to be additional key factors for evaluating organizational ambidexterity. Based on the factors covered in the framework, it was found that Apple Inc. is not as ambidextrous as it should be.

EducationsMSc in Management of Innovation and Business Development, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages110