Improving SMEs' Service Innovation Performance in the Face of Uncertainty Through IT Ambidexterity: A Configurational Approach

AbstractTaking a configurational approach, this paper investigates the causal configurations of IT ambidexterity, dynamic capabilities, and environmental uncertainty that are associated to service innovation performance in SMEs. Results from a qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) of 63 industrial service SMEs show that these firms attain service innovation performance when they dispose of an IT capability for exploration, accompanied by an IT capability for exploitation in one configuration, whereas the IT capability for exploitation is absent in other configurations. These results also support the implications of the configurational approach: different configurations of the three elements equally lead to service innovation performance, the same element can both enable or inhibit service innovation performance, configurations leading to the outcome are different than those leading to its absence, and configurations might show different permutations of peripheral conditions. Such results are discussed in light of the current literature and implications for research and practice are explained.

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